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Menelaos Christopoulos University of Patras

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Presentation on theme: "Menelaos Christopoulos University of Patras"— Presentation transcript:

1 Menelaos Christopoulos University of Patras


3 Family Tree Eteocles Polyneices Antigone Ismene Euryganeia Labdacus
Polydorus Cadmus Laius Menoiceus Oclarus Pentheus Iocasta Creon Oedipus Acmon

4 The poems of the epic cycle dealing with myths related to Oedipus are:
The Oedipodeia (Οἰδιπόδεια) usually ascribed to Kinaithon from Sparta In this poem: Oedipus killed his father Laius Oedipus married Iocasta ignoring who she was Oedipus married Euryganeia and begot his children Incestuous marriage but not incestuous fatherhood

5 The Thebais (Θηβαϊς) falsely ascribed to Homer
In this poem we were told about the fate of Oedipus’ sons the siege laid to Thebes (cf Aeschylus’ Septem contra Thebas) Some verses are preserved by Athenaeus and the Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi (v. 265), among them the first line of the proemion: Ἄργος ἄειδε θεὰ πολυδίψιον ἔνθεν ἄνακτες Sing, goddess, arid Argos whence the kings… The poem probably included also: The curse cast by Oedipus on his sons Eventually the curse cast by Pelops on Laius for his improper love for Chrysippus, Pelops’ son (in Euripides’ lost play Chrysippus, the boy, overpowered by shame, committed suicide)

6 The Epigonoi (Ἐπίγονοι) ascribed
to Homer (falsely) to Antimachus (falsely?) The main issue of the poem was the second siege of Thebes undertaken one generation later by the sons of the Seven. Of this poem too we possess the first line: Νῦν αὖθ’ ὁπλοτέρων ἀνδρῶν ἀρχώμεθα Μοῦσαι Now, Muses, let’s start from the younger men…

7 Oedipus in Homer Iliad 23, 679-680
ὅς ποτε Θήβασδ’ ἦλθε δεδουπότος Οἰδιπόδαο ἐς τάφον. ἔνθα δὲ πάντας ἐνίκα Καδμείωνας he (=Euryalus) went to Thebes for the funeral games of Oedipus who had fallen in the battlefield; there he defeated all the Cadmeans…

8 Odyssey 11, 271-280 Μητέρα τ’Οἰδιπόδαο εἶδον καλὴν Ἐπικάστην,
ἣ μέγα ἔργον ἔρεξεν ἀϊδρείηισι νόοιο, γημαμένη ὧι υἱεῖ. ὁ δ’ ὃν πατέρ’ ἐξεναρίξας γῆμεν. ἄφαρ δ’ ἀνάπυστα θεοὶ θέσαν ἀνθρώποισιν. ἀλλ’ὁ μὲν ἐν Θήβηι πολυηράτωι ἄλγεα πάσχων Καδμείων ἤνασσε θεῶν ὀλοὰς διὰ βουλάς. ἡ δ’ ἔβη εἰς Ἀἰδαο πυλάρταο κρατεροῖο, ἁψαμένη βρόχον αἰπὺν ἀφ΄ὑψηλοῖο μελάθρου, ὧι ἄχεϊ σχομένη. τῶι δ’ ἄλγεα κάλλιπ’ ὀπίσσω πολλὰ μάλ’, ὅσσα τε μητρὸς Ἐρινύες ἐκτελέουσι. And I saw the mother of Oedipus, fair Epicaste, who wrought a monstrous deed in ignorance of mind, in that she wedded her own son, and he, when he had slain his own father, wedded her, and straightway the gods made these things known among men. Howbeit he abode as lord of the Cadmeans in lovely Thebe, suffering woes through the baneful counsels of the gods, but she went down to the house oh Hades, the strong warder. She made fast a noose on high from a lofty beam, overpowered by her sorrow, but for him she left behind woes full many, even all that the Avengers (Erinyes) of a mother bring to pass. (translatiom by A. Murray)

9 Homer and Hesiod Homer: Makes Iocasta die before Oedipus
Does not mention any children from this marriage Does not allude to Oedipus’ blindness Does allude to the curse theme (the curse comes from Iocasta, neither from Pelops (on Laius) nor from Oedipus (on his sons) Hesiod: (Works and Days ) mentions the heroes who died “in seven gated Thebes, the land of Cadmus, fighting for the flocks of Oedipus” ὑφ’ Ἑπταπύλῳ Θήβῃ Καδμηίδῃ γαίῃ, μαρναμένους μήλων ἕνεκ’ Οἰδιπόδαο

10 Stesichorus and the “Lille papyrus”
The Lille papyrus preserves a fragment of a poem by Stesichorus. In this fragment: The queen of Thebes (more probably Iocasta, less probably Euryganeia) tries to reconcile her two sons She offers the palace of Thebes to one son (=he stays in Thebes) She offers the fortune and the flocks of Oedipus to the other son (=he leaves Thebes) Oedipus is obviously dead at the moment of this distribution In Euripides’ Phoenician Women Iocasta tries (in vain) to reconcile Polyneices and Eteocles (=Stesichorus’ version) Stesichorus could be the first to introduce the theme of incestuous fatherhood into the myth by making Iocasta the mother of Oedipus’ sons Pindar (Ol. 2, 35-45) stresses the importance of oracles in the myth (curse and oracles prevail in the narrative)

In Aeschylus’ Oedipus three prominent themes are certain The incestuous marriage The plague theme Oedipus’ blindness (by his own hand) Euripides’ Oedipus introduced a major mythical variant: Oedipus was blinded by Laius’ servants (perhaps on Creon’s demand) Even if in all narratives Oedipus answers the famous riddle, Sphinx has nothing to do with Oedipus himself. Sphinx’s presence at Thebes was a disastrous punishment brought upon by Laius’ improper love for Chrysippus.

12 Major issues raised on Oedipus myth:
Oedipus’ responsibility Oedipus’ guilt Oedipus is not responsible but is guilty: for killing his father for marrying his mother Oedipus’ father and mother are both responsible and guilty for deciding to kill Oedipus for attempting to kill Oedipus So the question is not about Oedipus’ individual guilt but Oedipus’ individual action.

13 Oedipus Rex Oedipus rex is not a detective story, nobody cares to find the murderer (since everybody knows him), it’s just the murderer that cares to find himself. In this quest Oedipus reacts with quickness and intelligence, as he did with the riddle. Time is obviously part of the riddle, still time is the only riddle that Oedipus cannot solve since, however quick or however slow he may be, everything has already been accomplished. If one could laugh at Oedipus’ final passion it would only be Sphinx. To what extend could we compare Oedipus’ intelligence to other kinds of mythical or literary depiction of intelligence, such as Odysseus’s for instance? Is Oedipus an Odysseus manqué? 4 2 3

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