According to the legend, Capaneus had immense strength and body size and was an outstanding warrior. He was also notorious for his arrogance. He stood just at the wall of Thebes at the siege of Thebes and shouted that Zeus himself could not stop him from invading it. In Aeschylus, he bears a shield with a man without armour withstanding fire, a torch in hand, which reads 'I will burn the city,' in token of this. Zeus struck and killed Capaneus with a thunderbolt, and Evadne threw herself on her husband's funeral pyre and died. His story was told by Aeschylus in his Seven against Thebes, by Euripides, and by the Roman poet Statius.
In the Divine Comedy, Dante sees Capaneus in the seventh circle (third round) of Hell, which is in the fourteenth Canto. Along with the other blasphemers, or those "violent against God", Capaneus is condemned to lie supine on a plain of burning sand while fire rains down on him. He continues to curse the deity (whom, being a pagan, he addresses as "Jove" aka Jupiter) despite the ever harsher pains he thus inflicts upon himself, so that God "thereby should not have glad vengeance."Template:Greek-myth-stub