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Tydeus was a character in Greek mythology. Although technically on the side of the heroes, being one of the Seven Against Thebes, he was abhorred by many of his comrades and audiences of his stories due to his psychotic nature, which even extended to cannibalism at times, and his murder of Ismene, the sister of Polynices, the lead general of the Seven.

Biography

Tydeus was exiled from his home of Calydon after killing his brother (his uncle in some versions), and settled in Argos, where he lodged with King Adrastus. Also staying with him was Polynices, the rightful ruler of Crete, whose brother Eteocles had deposed and expelled him, before taking the throne with help from Creon. One night, Tydeus and Polynices got into an argument over the sleeping quarters and began fighting, but were interrupted by Adrastus, who, seeing that the two men had a boar and a lion respectively emblazoned on their shields, recalled a prophecy that he should "yoke [his] daughters to a boar and a lion", and as a result placated the two men by having them marry his daughters. He also promised the two men that he would help them win back their kingdoms, starting with Polynices, leading to the raising of the Seven Against Thebes to take back Thebes from Eteocles.

When the army reached Thebes, Tydeus called out to Eteocles to come and face him, but received no answer. Bored, Tydeus began issuing challenges to random Thebans, easily defeating and killing each of them due to power granted to him by the goddess Athena. When he returned to the Seven's camp, the Thebans sent a force of fifty men after him, but he easily killed all of them.

When the Seven attacked Thebes and breached the city walls, Tydeus came across Polynice's sister Ismene and her lover Theoclymenus in the Temple of Athena, having been told their whereabouts by the goddess herself. Theoclymenus escaped, but Ismene was caught by Tydeus. She pleaded for her life, but Tydeus killed her anyway.

As the Thebans defeated the Seven following the deaths of Polynices and Eteocles at each other's hands, Tydeus was engaged by the Theban warrior Melanippus, his mortal enemy, as he was the only one strong enough to face Tydeus and live. During their fight, Melanippus managed to mortally wound Tydeus, but Tydeus, ignoring his wounds, leapt at Melanippus and smashed his skull before sucking out his brains and devouring them. After Melanippus's death, Tydeus's battle fury subsided, and he realized he was dying. Seeing Athena, he begged her to make him immortal, but she refused, having witnessed Tydeus's brutal treatment of Melanippus, and Tydeus expired.

With Tydeus dead, the Seven's last hope was gone, and all of them fell except Adrastus, who managed to escape. However, despite their victory, the Thebans felt more like they had been defeated, as Tydeus's battle frenzy had allowed him to kill the majority of their army.

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