Eteocles and Polyneices were the sons of Oedipus, King of Thebes, and Jocasta. Following the exile of their father, it was agreed that they would share the kingdom by reigning in alternate years. When Eteocles finished his year he refused to relinquish the throne to his brother. Polyneices fled to Argos, whose king agreed to assist him in reclaiming the Theban throne ("The Seven Against Thebes"). During the ensuing battle, the brothers slew each other.
The scene was popular on Etruscan cinerary urns during the Hellenistic Period, and was perhaps based on the tragedy by Euripides. For another terracotta urn molded with the same scene see no. IV-34 in Bonfante, ed., Etruscan Life and Afterlife.