Power, like the diamond, dazzles the beholder, and also the wearer, it dignifies meanness; it magnifies littleness; to what is contemptible, it gives authority; to what is low, exaltation. Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, no man good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power.
Charles Colton, Lacon
Thebaid is about power. On this cardinal theme Thebaid reflects, its focus emphatic, its message incisive. (Virtually) every event is related in some way to the unfavourable aspects of the exercise of power. Prominent is the issue of its pursuit and abuse, the consequent suffering and impotence of its victims. As Statius observes of monarchal power in connexion with Adrastus, the least objectionable regent in Thebaid, agit miseranda potestas inuigihre malis (‘distressing power compels him to be vigilant against ill fortune’, 8.262f.).