She sorely persecuted Antiope, his first wife, who escaped to Mount Cithaeron, where her twin sons Amphion and Zethus were being brought up by a herdsman who was ignorant of their parentage.
He was less productive as a poet than either Ennius or Accius; and we hear of only about twelve of his plays, founded on Greek subjects (among them the Antiope, Teucer, Armorum Judicium, Dulorestes, Chryses, Niptra, &c., most of them on subjects connected with the Trojan cycle), and one praetexta (Paulus) written in connexion with the victory of Lucius Aemilius Paulus at Pydna (168), as the Clastidium of Naevius and the Ambracia of Ennius were written in commemoration of great military successes.
After punishing Lycus and Dirce for cruel treatment of Antiope, they built and fortified Thebes, huge blocks of stone forming themselves into walls at the sound of Amphion's lyre (Horace, Odes, iii.
According to some, he sailed with Hercules to the Euxine, and there won the Amazon Antiope as the meed of valour; others said that he sailed on his own account, and captured Antiope by stratagem.
Antiope fell fighting on the side of Theseus, and her tomb was pointed out on the south side of the acropolis.
By Antiope Theseus had a son, Hippolytus.
On the death of Antiope, ' Theseus married Phaedra.
Five main cycles of story may be distinguished: (1) the foundation of the citadel Cadmea by Cadmus, and the growth of the Sparti or "Sown Men" (probably an aetiological myth designed to explain the origin of the Theban nobility which bore that name in historical times); (2) the building of a "seven-gated" wall by Amphion, and the cognate stories of Zethus, Antiope and Dirce; (3) the tale of the "house of Laius," culminating in the adventures of Oedipus and the wars of the "Seven" and the Epigoni; (4) the advent of Dionysus; and (5) the exploits of Heracles.