Seven from Thebes (1964)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Luigi Vanzi. 

Starring:     Andrι Lawrence (Diomedes), Lena von Martens (Doride), Burt Plesher (Hipolito), Loredana Nusciak (Cirene), Raf Baldassarre (Leonidas), Paul Windsor, Mariangela Giordano, Bert Silver.

a group of Thebians fight to rid Thebes from the control of Sparta, 382-379 BC

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.  (Some names are misspelled because the names are not available.)

Spartan soldiers rough up the Thebans with the "implacable cruelty of the oppressor."  They kill men, women and children.  They also plunder and rape women.  Nasces, the leader of a unit of the Spartans, breaks into the house of the rebel Diomedes and forces his old father to come with him.  The small daughter of the man tries to free her father, but Nasces pushes her away.  She is then hit hard by a fast passing horse.  The father then becomes so difficult to deal with that Nasces loses his temper and kills the older man. 

After the Spartans leave, the people come out to see the dead father and sister of Diomedes.  Diomedes arrives and sees his family dead on the streets of Thebes.  A neighbor says that it was Nasces that did it and they were helpless to prevent him from killing them.

Nasces reports to the Theban leader Leonidas that it is very difficult to get gold from the Thebans if force cannot be employed.  Diomedes comes up carrying his dead sister.  He tell Leonidas:  "You stole our freedom and now you would deny our lives."  He asks that Leonidas be damned.  Before the gods, he pledges that he will hate Leonidas, free his people and avenge his blood.  Three Thebans present also pledge that they are with Diomedes.  They all leave. (The nephew of Leonidas is also with them, but the group of a total of seven Thebans thinks that the nephew can help them more from the inside of the government of Leonidas.)

Leonidas is a bit worried about the hatred in these men's hearts, but Nasces tells him just to leave these men for him to deal with.

Diomedes is greeted by the pretty blonde daughter Doride of Leonidas.  She is in love with Diomedes and knows her father is a problem for them.  She urges Diomedes to go away with her to some place where they can start a new life together.  Diomedes kisses her and then rides away on his horse.  He joins the five other men and they ride together.  Nasces suddenly runs into them and the chase is on.  Diomedes splits off from the other five and Nasces chases after Diomedes.  The big man catches up with him and jumps from his horse onto Diomedes, taking him to the ground.  He then beats Diomedes bady, slapping him multiple times across the face. 

The other Spartans show up and Nasces tell them to put Diomedes in chains.  Leonidas comes down to see how the interrogation torture is going.  Nasces says that the fellow hasn't said a thing as of yet.  They want Diomedes to tell them where are the others in his group.  They brand him with a hot iron.  Doride comes down into the dungeon to check on her beloved.  She sees Diomedes being tortured and she rushes to him telling him to please tell the torturers what they want to hear.  She begs him and then she begs her father to spare Diomedes.  Leonidas just walks away.  They brand Diomedes one more time and then call it quits. 

Five of the Seven from Thebes push a boat along in the shallow water of a lake.  When they hit deeper water they all get in the boat and proceed ahead.  They reach their destination and find an old fisherman at work.  They ask him to give them shelter for just one night.  The fisherman agrees and takes them in for the night.  The old man is a true patriot of Thebes and he tells the men that one day they will find "our" courage again.  The fisherman then recognizes Hipolito and he knows what the men are up to.  He says they are planning to overthrow the Spartans.  Hipolito is not pleased hearing this and the old man asks Hipolito to forgive him if he said something inappropriate. 

The Spartan army leader Debeto is pretty heavy and doesn't look like his very physically fit soldiers.  Leonidas talks with Debeto, who tells Leonidas that his purpose in Thebes is to keep order.  Leonidas reminds the Spartan that without him, Sparta wouldn't even have control over Thebes. 

The next day the five come into the heart of Thebes.  They each are examined by the guards.  One of the women associated with madam Cirene is there and she's very drunk.  The men fear that she may recognize them and give them away.  One of the men coming into Thebes is found carrying a knife.  The fellow tries to run away, but an archer from above shoots him in the back with an arrow. 

The plotters make their way over to the home of Cirene.  They ask the servant to tell Cirene that her brothers are here.  Androcles tells Cirene that Cledona was at the gates and she may have recognized him and, in her drunken state, she might reveal it to the Spartans.

Cirene tells Androcles that the nephew of Leonidas is having a big banquet for influential people and he has asked Leonidas to be there.  So, there's still a chance that Leonidas might go to the banquet.  Doride runs into the conspirators and asks them why did they come here?  Hipolito tells her that they have come to help Diomedes escape and to set fire to the Spartan camp. 

Nasces tells Debeto that the Theban people are starting to revolt.  Meanwhile, Doride works on her father to make sure he goes to the banquet for the sake of his nephew.  Dad says that his nephew has always been an opportunist.  He is suspicious of why his daughter is so insistent that he go to the banquet.  He tells her that Hipolito must have talked with her.  Doride absolutely denies that. 

That drunken woman tells Leonidas that she saw Androcles.  Leonidas asks her where did she see the man and she says she saw him at Cirene's house.  The older man decides to pay a visit to the banquet. 

Nasces walks with Leonidas.  They stop to see the corpse that was killed earlier in the day.  When the guards take off the blanket over the corpse, everyone realizes that someone has stolen the body and placed sand bags in its place.  Leonidas tells Nasces to search the area and find that corpse. 

Leonidas shows up at the banquet in a very suspicious mood.  His nephew thanks him for coming.  Cirene anticipates trouble and she sends her prostitutes out to distract the guards.  Nasces comes in with his men.  They have not been able to find the body or any of the plotters.  And worse, the revolt has begun.  The rioters in one section are pushed back by soldiers on horseback carrying lances. 

The group of now six go the the dungeon jail where Diomedes is being held.  They kill a guard and then another.  A third guard is then killed.  They rush over to Diomedes and free him.  Diomedes is happy to be united with the group again. 

Leonidas sends his own soldiers out to counteract the rebellion, but his soldiers refuse to fight the public.  The gang of conspirators go to Cirene and ask her to disguise them as women.  Leonidas arranges an escort to take his daughter away from Thebes for her own safety.  Doride tells her dad that she is afraid. 

Four of the plotters dressed as women come into the banquet.  The four plotters get close to some of the powerful and influential men working with the Spartans and they kill them.  Now the assassins want to go after Leonidas.  Diomedes breaks off from them, saying he wants to join the rebels in the streets. The others corner Leonidas and tell him to prepare to die.  They are here to liquidate a tyrant.  Leonidas refuses to be killed by the plotters, so he uses his knife and kills himself.  The plotters, however, are not going to let Leonidas do this.  Everyone now stabs Leonidas. 

The plotters now goes out to speak to the people.  Hipolito tells them that Leonidas is dead.  Debeto comes to speak with the plotters.  He says he doesn't want the Thebans to harm any of his Spartans.  And he wants them to deliver Diomedes to him dead or alive.  Hipolito says:  "I suppose it's a fair exchange."  He tells the others that they need Sparta to protect them.  Diomedes tells Hipolito that he must honor the democracy.  Hipolito tells him:  "You're being childish." Debeto knows the real reasons behind the plotters wanting to still have the protection of the Spartans.  He knows, for instance, that two of the plotters have control of the trade with Sparta and want to keep it that way.   Diomedes tells Hipolito that from now on he should consider him, Diomedes, as his enemy.

Diomedes starts telling the Thebans that they must be ready to fight the Spartans.  All of a sudden Nasces and his Spartans come in and break up the meeting.  They are going to arrest Diomedes for instigation of rebellion.  Nasces, however, is going to kill Diomedes, but Cirene jumps in between the two men and she receives the mortal wound instead.  Diomedes gets away. 

Diomedes rides over to see Doride.  He asks her why has she refused to see him?  She says that it is his spirit that led to the death of her father.  Diomedes tells her farewell, but anxiously she asks him where will he go?  Then she tells him:  "No, don't go.  They'll kill you."  She kisses Diomedes, cries a little and runs away.    Diomedes takes his horse and leaves. 

Debeto says he wants to destroy Diomedes's bases of support.  He then tells Hipolito that Thebes has been formally place under Spartan control.  Hipolito complains that would mean that he and his group would be nothing more than puppets of Sparta. 

Spartans are on the rampage again, harming the Thebans in many different ways.  Among other things, they burn Theban houses and haystacks.

Diomedes confers with others about this recent move by the Spartans.  They are going to need weapons.  The guards bring Doride to Diomedes.  She asks to speak with him alone.  When they are alone she asks Diomedes to please take her back with him.  She also tells him that she now has her father's wealth and Diomedes can use it to buy weapons for his cause. 

A message comes in to the Spartans that the Thebans have been sighted along the edges of the swamp.  A bit later, Diomedes is told that the Spartans have entered the swamp.  Diomedes decides to attack the Spartans while there are vulnerable.  The two enemies face each other in boats.  The Theban archers kill a number of the Spartans who jump from their boats and make their way to solid ground.  There they are met by the Theban cavalry and killed. 

The remnants of the seven from Thebes meet.  Phelerodes says he is going to kill Diomedes.  Androcles says he will join the man.  The two leave. 

Diomedes says that they must take the Spartans by surprise.  The guards bring in Phelerodes and Androcles.  Diomedes trusts Androcles, but he doesn't know much about Phelerodes.  Androcles vouches for the man with him.  The three go to check out the lay out of the Spartan formations.  He finds the Spartans strength training as usual.  Diomedes says that he will lure the Spartans into a trap.  He also says the Spartans are over-confident and this will be their downfall.  As they sneak through the marshes, Phelerodes tries to kill Diomedes.  Diomedes escapes the assassin's knife and Androcles intervenes and kills his partner with his own knife. 

At night Doride tells Diomedes that she knows from the songs the men are singing that these are the last hours before battle.  She tells her beloved that his destiny is her destiny.  Diomedes tells that that all will go well. 

Dobeto gets a message that the Theban cavalry is closing in on the Spartans.  Dobeto starts to get his Spartans read for battle. 

Diomedes and his cavalrymen ride their horses into the marshes near the Spartans' encampment.  The Spartan infantry forms up into a line just like Diomedes said they would.  The Spartan cavalry, however, charges across the plain and into the water after the Thebans.  As part of the cavalry stays to face the Spartans, Diomedes takes the other part of the cavalry with him onto the plains.  He goes to his infantry to get them started.  His cavalry charges the Spartans but the horses are afraid of the long spikes of the Spartans pointed at them and will not rush in to break up the Spartan formation.  So Diomedes makes another charge.  This time the Spartans just open up their formations and let the Theban cavalry race through their lines.   Each time the Theban cavalry retreats to regroup, javelin throwers rush out of the Spartan formations and fling spears at the Thebans killing a few of them at a time.  

Diomedes changes his plans and now charges the Spartan cavalry still fighting with the Thebans in the marshes.  In the waters of the lake the Spartans take a beating. 

Debeto says he will wait until the Thebans attack him.  In the meantime, he moves the Spartan formations forward toward the enemy.  Hipolito and his troops are headed to the battlefield to help the Spartans. 

The Thebans spread out their lines, so the Spartans spread out more to counter them.  Now the Theban archers open up with scores of arrows head tedoward the Spartans.  The Theban cavalry then go to the attack.  Sparta's formations are broken up.   Nasces kills a lot of Theban soldiers.  Nasces and Diomedes find each other on the battlefield.  They both ride to an agreed upon site so just the two of them can meet in personal battle.  Diomedes wins the match and kills Nasces.  Doride arrives and runs to hug Diomedes. 

Hipolito arrives with his Theban forces.  Debeto tells his men to form up in squares, but a lot the the Spartans just run away.  Debeto takes his own life.  As the Thebans come forward the Spartans fall back and start running.  Hipolito arrives on the battlefield.  Thebans now will fight Thebans.  This idea, however, does not sit well with the Thebans and men from both sides step out of formation to urge their men not to fight each other but come together as united Thebans.  Hipolito calls the men traitors.  The men ignore him and both sides start shouting:  "Long live Thebes!"  And now both sides rush to each other to greet and hug one another.  Diomedes is treated like a Theban hero.  Doride kisses Diomedes. 

Hipolito decides to run away and he takes off on his horse.  One of the Theban cavalry leaders sees him and fires an arrow at him. Hipolito is hit in the back by the arrow and falls from his horse.  Diomedes and Doride lead the troops back home to Thebes. 

 

Another okay sword and sandal type movie.  These films seem so similar.  The situation changes, but they all have love stories of the hero and the heroine whose love has to persevere against various obstacles.  Don't worry too much about the difficulty of the obstacles, because the end is usually happy with the hero and heroine reunited.  The costumes are pretty similar and often the quality of the pictures is not that good.  The hero and heroine fight against the villain who is pretty bad.  There are usually battles also between large groups of men.  Only the background history seems to be really different.  This film also follows this formula.  Thank goodness we have the real history behind the story. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

late 6th century BC – the Thebans start having trouble with Athens because that city-state helped the small village of Plataea to maintain its independence against them.

506 – repelled an inroad into Attica.

480-479 – during the Persian invasion of Greece, Thebes sided with the Persians. (Even though 400 Thebians was sent to Thermopylae to help Leonidas and his Spartans.)

479 – Thebes joined King Xerxes I of Persia and fought on his side in the Battle of Plataea. The victorious Greeks ban Thebes from the presidency of the Boeotian League. Sparta tries to expel Thebes from the Delphic amphictyony ( an attempt which was ended by Athens).

457 – Sparta, to counteract the power of Athens in central Greece, reinstates Thebes as the dominant power in Boeotia.

457-447 – Athenians overrun and occupies almost all of Thebes, except for citadel of Cadmea.

431-404 – the Peloponnesian War. The Thebans became allies of Sparta against Athens.

427 – Sparta helps Thebes besiege Plataea and the town is destroyed.

424 – the Battle of Delium. Thebes defeats an invading force of Athenians. Thebes was on its way to becoming the predominant power in Greece.

After 404 – Thebes breaks off its alliance with Sparta.

403 – Thebes secretly supports the restoration of its democracy (so Athens could counteract against the power of Sparta). They went on to form a league against Sparta.

395 – Battle of Haliartus. Thebes stands up to Sparta.

395 – Athens joins with Thebes against Sparta.

394 – Battle of Coronea. Once again, Thebes stands up to Sparta.

387 – the general settlement makes all the Greek towns completely autonomous. Thebes, thereby, loses its political control of other Boeotian towns.

Since 387 – to maintain the balance of power, Athens prevents the formation of a Theban empire.

382 – Sparta occupies the citadel of Thebes.

379 – the Spartan garrison is expelled from Thebes. Thebes sets up a democratic constitution. Sparta and Thebes go to war. The Theban army shows itself to be the best in Greece. (The army was trained, led by Epaminondas and Pelopidas, proves itself.) Thebes gets control over all Boeotia.

371 – Thebes defeats Sparta at Leuctra. They then, at the head of a large coalition, end the great power that was Sparta.

362 – Battle of Mantinea. Epaminondas is killed. Thebes becomes a secondary power again.

356-346 – Thebes fights the neighboring state of Phocis, but can’t even maintain its predominance in central Greece. Thebes had to invite Philip II of Macedon to crush the Phocians. This hurts Thebes in the long run because it makes Macedon that much stronger.

338 – the orator Demosthenes persuades Thebes to join Athens in a final attempt to stop Philip's advance into Attica. Thebes loses the battle of Chaeronea. This ends the hope of Thebes to ever reassume its former control over Greece.

335 – Thebes leads an unsuccessful revolt against the future Alexander the Great, the son of Philip, and is punished by having the city of Thebes destroyed.

Thebes rebels again against Alexander and the city of Thebes is razed to the ground. The Thebans are sold into slavery. This was the end of Thebes.

 

 

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