Oedipus the king summary and analysis

SparkNotes: The, oedipus, plays

In particular, it is said that the gods made the matter of his paternity known, whilst in Oedipus the king, oedipus very much discovers the truth himself. 11 In 467 bc, sophocles's fellow tragedian Aeschylus won first prize at the city dionysia with a trilogy about the house of laius, comprising laius, oedipus and seven against Thebes (the only play which survives). Since he did not write connected trilogies as Aeschylus did, oedipus Rex focuses on the titular character while hinting at the larger myth obliquely, which was already known to the audience in Athens at the time. Reception edit bénigne gagneraux, The Blind Oedipus Commending his Children to the gods The trilogy containing Oedipus Rex took second prize in the city dionysia at its original performance. Aeschylus's nephew Philocles took first prize at that competition. 12 However, in his poetics, aristotle considered Oedipus Rex to be the tragedy which best matched his prescription for how drama should be made. 13 Many modern critics agree with Aristotle on the quality of Oedipus Rex, even if they don't always agree on the reasons.

A blind Oedipus now exits the palace and begs to be exiled as soon as possible. Creon enters, saying that Oedipus shall be taken into the house until oracles can be consulted regarding what is best to be done. Oedipus's two daughters (and half-sisters Antigone and Ismene, are sent out, and Oedipus laments their having been born to such a cursed family. He asks auditor Creon to watch over them and Creon agrees, before sending Oedipus back into the palace. On an empty stage the chorus repeat the common Greek maxim, that no man should be considered fortunate until he is dead. 10 Relationship with mythic tradition edit The two cities of Troy and Thebes were the major focus of Greek epic poetry. The events surrounding the Trojan War were chronicled in the Epic Cycle, of which much remains, and those about Thebes in the Theban Cycle, which have been lost. The Theban Cycle recounted the sequence of tragedies that befell the house of laius, of which the story of Oedipus is a part. Homer 's Odyssey (XI.271ff.) contains the earliest account of the oedipus myth when Odysseus encounters Jocasta (named Epicaste) in the underworld. Homer briefly summarises the story of Oedipus, including the incest, patricide, and Jocasta's subsequent suicide. However, in the homeric version, oedipus remains King of Thebes after the revelation and neither blinds himself, nor is sent into exile.

oedipus the king summary and analysis

SparkNotes: The, oedipus, plays: Plot overview

However, oedipus presses him, finally threatening him with torture or execution. It emerges that the child he gave away was laius's own son, and that Jocasta had given the baby to the shepherd to secretly be exposed upon the mountainside. This was done in fear of the prophecy that Jocasta said had never come true: that the child would kill his father. Everything is at last revealed, and Oedipus curses himself and fate before leaving the stage. The chorus laments how even a great man can be felled by fate, and following this, a servant exits the palace to speak of what has happened inside. When Jocasta enters the house, she runs to the palace bedroom and hangs herself there. Shortly afterward, oedipus enters in a fury, calling on his servants to bring him a sword so that he might cut out his mother's womb. He then rages through the house, until he comes upon Jocasta's body. Giving a cry, oedipus takes her down and removes the long gold pins that held save her dress together, before plunging them into his own eyes in despair.

oedipus the king summary and analysis

Seven Against Thebes - aeschylus - ancient Greece - classical

However, trunk he still fears that he may somehow commit incest with his mother. The messenger, eager to ease oedipus's mind, tells him not to worry, because merope was not in fact his real mother. It emerges that this messenger was formerly a shepherd on mount Cithaeron, and that he was given a baby, which the childless Polybus then adopted. The baby, he says, was given to him by another shepherd from the laius household, who had been told to get rid of the child. Oedipus asks the chorus if anyone knows who this man was, or where he might be now. They respond that he is the same shepherd who was witness to the murder of laius, and whom Oedipus had already sent for. Jocasta, who has by now realized the truth, desperately begs Oedipus to stop asking questions, but he refuses and Jocasta runs into the palace. When the shepherd arrives Oedipus questions him, but he begs to be allowed to leave without answering further.

Instead of answers he was given a prophecy that he would one day murder his father and sleep with his mother. Upon hearing this he resolved to leave corinth and never return. While traveling he came to the very crossroads where laius was killed, and encountered a carriage which attempted to drive him off the road. An argument ensued and Oedipus killed the travelers, including a man who matches Jocasta's description of laius. Oedipus has hope, however, because the story is that laius was murdered by several robbers. If the shepherd confirms that laius was attacked by many men, then Oedipus is in the clear. A man arrives from Corinth with the message that Oedipus's father has died. Oedipus, to the surprise of the messenger, is made ecstatic by this news, for it proves one half of the prophecy false, for now he can never kill his father.

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oedipus the king summary and analysis

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Eventually tiresias leaves, muttering darkly that when the murderer is discovered he shall be a native citizen of Thebes, brother and father to his manager own children, and son and husband to his own mother. Creon arrives to face oedipus's accusations. The king demands that Creon be executed; however, the chorus persuades him to let Creon live. Jocasta enters and attempts to comfort Oedipus, telling him he should take no notice of prophets. As proof, she recounts an incident in which she and laius received an oracle which never came true. The prophecy stated that laius would be killed love by his own son; however, jocasta reassures Oedipus by her statement that laius was killed by bandits at a crossroads on the way to delphi.

The mention of this crossroads causes Oedipus to pause and ask for more details. He asks Jocasta what laius looked like, and Oedipus suddenly becomes worried that Tiresias's accusations were true. Oedipus then sends for the one surviving witness of the attack to be brought to the palace from the fields where he now works as a shepherd. Jocasta, confused, asks Oedipus what the matter is, and he tells her. Many years ago, at a banquet in Corinth, a man drunkenly accused Oedipus of not being his father's son. Oedipus went to delphi and asked the oracle about his parentage.

The precise riddle asked by the Sphinx varied in early traditions, and is not stated in Oedipus Rex, as the event precedes the play; but the most widely-known version is, " what is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs. " Oedipus correctly guesses, " man who crawls on all fours as an infant, walks upright in maturity, and leans on a stick in old age. Bested by the prince, the Sphinx throws herself from a cliff, thereby ending the curse. 8 Oedipus' reward for freeing Thebes from the Sphinx is its kingship, and the hand of the dowager queen, jocasta; none then realize that Jocasta is Oedipus' true mother. 9 Thus, unknown to all of the characters, the prophecy has been fulfilled. 1369, a fragmentary papyrus copy of Oedipus Rex, 4th century.


Oedipus, king of Thebes, sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to ask advice of the oracle at Delphi, concerning a plague ravaging Thebes. Creon returns to report that the plague is the result of religious pollution, since the murderer of their former king, laius, has never been caught. Oedipus vows to find the murderer and curses him for causing the plague. Oedipus summons the blind prophet Tiresias for help. When Tiresias arrives he claims to know the answers to oedipus's questions, but refuses to speak, instead telling him to abandon his search. Oedipus is enraged by tiresias' refusal, and verbally accuses him of complicity in laius' murder. Outraged, tiresias tells the king that Oedipus himself is the murderer you yourself are the criminal you seek. Oedipus cannot see how this could be, and concludes that the prophet must have been paid off by Creon in an attempt to undermine him. The two argue vehemently, as Oedipus mocks Tiresias' lack of sight, and Tiresias in turn tells Oedipus that he himself is blind.

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As he grows to manhood, oedipus hears a rumour that he is not truly the son of Polybus and his wife, merope. He asks the delphic Oracle who his parents really are. The Oracle seems to ignore this question, telling him instead that he is destined to " mate with his own mother, and shed/With his own hands the blood of his own sire ". Desperate to avoid this terrible fate, oedipus, who still believes that Polybus and Merope are his true parents, leaves Corinth for the city of Thebes. On the road to Thebes, oedipus encounters laius and his retainers, and the two quarrel over whose chariot has the right of way. The Theban king moves to strike the insolent youth with his sceptre, but Oedipus, unaware that laius is his true father, throws the old man down from his chariot, killing him. Thus, laius is slain by his own son, and the prophecy dubai that the king had sought to avoid by exposing Oedipus at birth is fulfilled. Before arriving at Thebes, oedipus encounters the Sphinx, a legendary beast with the head and breast of a woman, the body of a lioness, and the wings of an eagle. The Sphinx was sent to the road approaching Thebes as a punishment from the gods, and would strangle any traveler who failed to answer a certain riddle.

oedipus the king summary and analysis

When his son is born, the king consults an oracle as to his fortune. To his horror, the oracle reveals that laius "is doomed to perish by the hand of his own son". Laius binds the infant's feet together with a pin, and orders Jocasta to kill him. Unable to kill her own son, jocasta orders a servant to slay the infant for her. The read servant then exposes the infant on a mountaintop, where he is found and rescued by a shepherd (in some versions, the servant gives the infant to the shepherd). The shepherd names the child Oedipus, "swollen feet as his feet had been tightly bound by laius. The shepherd brings the infant to corinth, and presents him to the childless king Polybus, who raises Oedipus as his own son.

Art Museum. Many parts or elements of the myth of Oedipus occur before the opening scene of the play, although some are alluded to in the text. Oedipus is the son of laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes. The misfortunes of his house are the result of a curse laid upon his father for violating the sacred laws of hospitality. In his youth, laius was the guest of Pelops, the king of Elis, and he became the tutor of Chrysippus, the king's youngest son, in chariot racing. Laius seduced or abducted and raped Chrysippus, who according to some versions, killed himself in shame. This murder cast a doom over laius and all of his descendants (although many scholars regard laius' transgressions against Chrysippus to be a late addition to the myth).

2 3 4, of his three theban plays that have survived, and that deal with the story. Oedipus, oedipus Rex was the second to be written. However, in internet terms of the chronology of events that the plays describe, it comes first, followed. Oedipus at Colonus and then, antigone. Prior to the start of, oedipus Rex, oedipus has become the king. Thebes while unwittingly fulfilling a prophecy that he would kill his father, laius (the previous king and marry his mother, jocasta (whom Oedipus took as his queen after solving the riddle of the Sphinx ). The action of Sophocles' play concerns Oedipus' search for the murderer of laius in order to end a plague ravaging Thebes, unaware that the killer he is looking for is none other than himself. At the end of the play, after the truth finally comes to light, jocasta hangs herself while oedipus, horrified at his patricide and incest, proceeds to gouge out his own eyes in despair. Oedipus Rex is regarded by many scholars as the masterpiece of ancient Greek tragedy.

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This article is about the play by sophocles. For other uses, see. Oedipus Rex, also known by its Greek title, oedipus Tyrannus ancient Greek : οδίπους τύρανος ipa: oidípus týranos. Oedipus the king, is an, athenian tragedy by, sophocles that was first performed around 429. 1, originally, to the ancient Greeks, the title was simply. Oedipus ( οδίπους as it is referred to by Aristotle in the. It shakespeare is thought to have been renamed. Oedipus Tyrannus to distinguish it from another of Sophocles' plays, oedipus at Colonus. In antiquity, the term tyrant referred to a ruler, but it did not necessarily have a negative connotation.


oedipus the king summary and analysis
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  1. seven Against Thebes tells how, when the shamed. Oedipus stepped down as king of Thebes, he gave the kingdom to his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices on the understanding that they would alternate the throne every year. The holy bible: King James Version.

  2. Free oedipus papers, essays, and research papers. Oedipus, is to Blame in, oedipus, rex. Oedipus, is to Blame In Sophicle's, oedipus The king, oedipus plays the lead character in the play.

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  6. Complete summary of Sophocles oedipus, rex. Enotes plot summaries cover all the significant action. A short summary of Sophocles's The, oedipus, plays. This free synopsis covers all the crucial plot points of The.

  7. Oedipus, rex oedipus the king ) study guide contains a biography of Sophocles, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Answer these would-you-rathers and we'll tell you if you're introverted or extroverted. Oedipus, rex, also known by its Greek title, oedipus, tyrannus (Ancient Greek: οδίπους τύρανος ipa: oid pus t ranos. Oedipus the king, is an Athenian tragedy by sophocles that was first performed around 429.

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