Antiope was the daughter of the Theban king Nicteus. She was a woman of exceptional beauty and she was coveted by Zeus himself who united with her disguised as a Satyr.

To escape her father's anger she fled to Sicyon where she married king Epopeus who neglected to ask for her father's permission. Enraged, Nicteus declared war on Epopeus, but he died soon thereafter leaving the throne to his brother Lycus, asking him to restore his honor by invading Sicyon, a wish that Lycus fulfilled. Following the invasion of Sicyon, and returning to Thebes as a prisoner, Antiope gave birth to twin boys: Amphion and Zethus. She was held as prisoner in Thebes for many years, suffering the cruelty of Lycus' wife, Dirce.

By order of Lycus, the two boys were exposed (left out in nature to die - a common theme in Greek Mythology) on Mt. Cithaeron. But a shepard found the two boys and saved them. Antiope managed to escape her captivity and joined her two sons on Mt. Cithaeron, who were enraged to hear of their mother's captivity.

They descended upon Thebes and took over the town after killing Lyceums. For his wife Drice they ordered a tormented death by tying her hair to a raging bull's horns and letting her die as the animal run through the town. Dirce's death is the theme of the marble statue "Famese Bull" in the Naples museum. Amphion became the king of Thebes and with his brother's help he enclosed the city in imposing high walls and towers.

The legend states that Zethus ordered the stones arranged into the wall by playing a sweet melody with his lyre, which was a gift by Hermes.