According to the legend, Capaneus had immense strength and body size and was outstanding warrior. He was also notorius 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. Zeus struck and killed Capaneus with a thunderbolt, and Evadne threw herself on her husband's funeral pyre and died. His story may be found in Aeschylus, Euripides, and the Roman poet Statius.
In the Divine Comedy, Dante sees Capaneus in the seventh circle of Hell. 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 "Giove" i.e. Jupiter) despite the ever harsher pains he thus inflicts upon himself, so that God "thereby should not have glad vengeance."
Virgil strongly condemns Capaneus, but many readers of the Comedy have perceived heroism in his defiance of God's whims even under torture.