Presentation on theme: "clas215 Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus 2"— Presentation transcript:
1 clas215 Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus 2 4/12/2017Pity the Man?Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus 2bacchae 2
2 Mourn or Rejoice? “O the misery, clas2154/12/2017Mourn or Rejoice?“O the misery,now it is ours, all ours, and not for the moment nowbut all our lives, we wail the deaththe curse on the blood our bloodour doom born in us by our father ”(Antigone, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus p. 382)―“But look,he’s free, he’s ended his life with blessings—children, end your grief. No one aliveis free and clear of pain”(Chorus, p. 384)should we at play’s mourn or rejoice?CHORUS (p. 377, lines 1771–1778):Not in pain, not by a doom that breaks the heart with mourning, let our friend go down to the world below the all-enshrouding infinite fields of the dead the dark house of Death. Numberless agonies blind and senseless, came his way in life— now let some power some justice grant him glory!bacchae 2
3 Agenda Opening Discussion Recap and Update Closing Discussion clas2154/12/2017AgendaOpening DiscussionOedipus at Colonus as Tragedy: Plot and ThemeRecap and UpdateGenre, Context, ThemeClosing Discussion“Not to Be Born is Best”?bacchae 2
4 Opening DiscussionOedipus at Colonus as Tragedy: Plot and Theme
5 OAC as Tragedy… Formula, etc. Aeschylean progression KorosHubrisAtēDikēAeschylean progressionVerbal visualAmbiguous clearHuman divineCycle of violence?Knowledge through suffering?Aristotelian patternsCharacter-based motivation (ēthos)?Hamartia?Complex plot?Recognition?Reversal?Pity? Fear? Catharsis?class 2 on oac, look ahead…OAC: Tragic Structures?
6 Oedipal Reversals Reverse rite of passage Others. . . Oedipus Oedipal ReversalsOedipus the KingOedipus at ColonusReverse rite of passageincorporationtransformationseparationOthers. . .Furies to EumenidesOedipus“Nothing” to “man”Fool to sageFather to alastōrPariah to hērōs (deified dead)OK: (reverse) rite of passageOC:Furies (Erinyes, Semnai theai) to Eumenides (“Kindly Ones”)“As we call you Powers of Kindness (Eumenides), so from the springs of kindness in your heart receive your suppliant now and save his life” (Leader to Oedipus, p. 312)yet the goddesses are fearful as well – just the kind of ambiguity with which this tragedy is short through and through.fool to sagelines 6. ff. OED "Acceptance - that is the great lesson suffering teaches / suffering and the long years, my close companions”cf. polynices: 1428 learns of oed's bad way too late (1264 Ἁγὼ πανώλης ὄψ᾽ ἄγαν ἐκμανθάνω, "So late late, / to my everlasting shame I learn this so late"). poly's (supposed) regret over oed. seeks father's mercy. but poly seems not to think too late... poly painfully aware of the tragic destiny that seems to be catching up with him. yet poly feels helpless before the dicates of honor – can longer back down. comparison with other tragedy – clyt in agamemnon??father/friend to alastōrOED to CREON, refering to creon’s seeking to abduct oed to leverage “my curse, my fury of vengeance rooted deep in your soil” (alastōr houmos, p. 331)1548 oed's daughters are men, not women. = rejection of sons. cf. oed's earlier tirade.1567. oed curses poly: "You - die! Die and be damned! I spit on you! / Out!"pariah to hērōs“no pleasure to break the silence of these mysteries” (707–8)“Only … Theseus … must see this mystery”1749 oed is already part heros, infernal god of power to the living. has miraculous sight now.1989 messenger speech. note that this is a messenger speech that conceals as well as reveals. no oed on an eccyclema.CLA77, Andrew Scholtz
7 clas2154/12/2017Recap and UpdateGenre, Context, Themebacchae 2
8 Some Plot Variants Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus Other… Prior to action of play, Oedipus, after big reveal, seeks to be killed. When calms down, is allowed to live on at Thebes. Later, Thebes exiles him.Oedipus remains in Thebes and is buried there (Soph. Antigone, Homer, Euripides)Oedipus goes into self-imposed exile at end of OTK.Prior to action of play, Jocasta (Oedipus’ mother) has Antigone, Ismene, Eteocles, Polynices by Oedipus. Hangs self at end of OTK (OAC prequel).Jocasta kills self when incest revealed. Oedipus then remarries and has a new family (Antigone etc.)Jocasta lives on with Oedipus at Thebes (Euripides Phoenician Women).
9 Fate, Responsibility … Tragedy? Fate, Responsibility … Tragedy?Oedipus the KingOedipus at ColonusApollo to Creon“Pay the killers back, whoever is responsible” (p. 164)Oedipus“Apollo, friends, Apollo - he ordained my agonies” (p. 241)Oedipus“I am innocent … blind, unknowing!” (317)“Thebes bound me fast to a bride who was my ruin (atē)” (315)Polynices“I learn this all too late” (360)“I must travel down that road, doomed by fate and the curses of my father” (368)why does oed now plead innocence?Oedipus’ bafflement in face of the law drasanta patheinhis refusal to “face” guilt leads to blindnessbut does he still refuse to face guilt??Oedipus to Creon:“… if, by an oracle of the gods …”“… I made her my bride against my will”“No, I’ll not be branded guilty …” (pp. 344–5)Polynices – is he unfairly chewed out by his father??:“So late, to my everlasting shame I learn all this so late”“… this, I’m certain, must be the work of a Fury, your Fury”“Exile is humiliating”“I must travel down that road, doomed by fate” (pp. 360 ff.)evocation ofcycle of violence as inexorable forceof oed as alastor, personified retribution, a male furydoes then fate let oed off the hook? if so, why not poly (and eteo)?CLA77, Andrew Scholtz
10 Analysis prologue (pp. 284 ff.) parodos (291) 1st episode A (298) clas2154/12/2017Analysisprologue (pp. 284 ff.)Oed, Ant, Citizenidentity, positioningparodos (291)amoibaion (chorus-character dialogue)Chorus, Oed, Antsupplication1st episode A (298)leader, Oed, Ismene, Antamoibaion (314)Chorus, OedOed’s crimes (?)1st episode B (318)Leader, Theseus, Oedsupplication, negotiation1st stasimon (326)praise (Colonus, Athens)2nd episode (328)Ant, Oed, Leader, Creon, Theseustussle over Oed2nd stasimon (348)victory song3rd episode (350)Leader, Oed, Ant, Thesleave-taking begins3rd stasimon (358)the human condition4th episode A (359)Ant, Oed, Polya father’s curseamoebic kommos, dialogue (371)Chorus, Oed, Antportents4th episode B (373)Thes, Oed4th stasimon (377)prayers for OedExodos (378)spoken dialogue, lyric kommosmessenger, leader, Ant, Ismene, ThesOed’s demise, lament, consolationthis 2nd set of readings shows us yet again an angry oedipus: angry at polynices, angry at creon, angry maybe even at gods (“such was the pleasure of the gods, raging, perhaps, against our race from ages past”).at the same time that same quote, from near the beginning of the play, suggests a connection between oed’s supposed guilt and the human condition. the gods have raged against us from the start; oed can make no better sense of his destiny than some generalized divine animosity. which considered along with the “count no man blest” quote from last class suggests that in pitying oed amd his tragic – IF we pity oed and his tragic fate – we are pitying ourselves. at the same time, if oed’s suffering is at some deeper level OUR suffering, does he in showing us that he has beaten the rap, show us how WE have beat the rap? but if so, where is human responsibility and therefore human dignity?at the same time, 4th episode A shows us tragic motivation: polynices’ curse is his sense of honor (“exile is humiliating” etc., p. 367), his determination not to be victimized by hubris leads him to a terrible hubris. poly, almost self-pityingly, paints himself the victim of fate, curses, duty – but isn’t he hear the author of his own fate? so DO we have in the theban plays a coherent theory of humankind’s tragic fate or not?bacchae 2
11 Stage Set, “Colonus Hippius” Stage Set, “Colonus Hippius”SouthEastWestskene (stage building)Spatial-Thematic PolaritiesFEMALEleft (east of audience)earth goddessesAthenaolive treenaturewild ThebesindividualdemocracyMALEright (west of audience)patriarchal OlympiansPoseidonhorsecitycivilized Athenssocialoligarchy-aristocracyEquestrian statueOlive groveTo UnderworldAltar of Athena Hippia, Poseidon Hippiosto Thebesto AthensSource: Wiles Tragedy in AthensCLA77, Andrew Scholtz
12 “… chariots racing down the wind - the enemy will be crushed! CHORUS p. 348:“… chariots racing down the wind - the enemy will be crushed!…They honor Athena, reigning queen of horsemen - honor the Sea-lord, guardian of our earth…”in this stasimon, the chorus evokes Theseus’ cavalry charge upon the Theban soldiers carrying the captive girls back to Thebesbut what’s wrong with this picture?Athena, goddess of horses?chariots racing down the wind?Clearly, in the attempt to honor both Athens aristocratic-“horsey” heritage, and its naval-democratic heritage, the poet finds himself using his metaphors and other associations rather promiscuouslyas if, in the attempt to underscore the unity of the state in his rhetoric, his discloses its divisionspolitical resonance: compare poly: 1467 poly on the cause of the stasis between himself and eteo: "he bribed the people (polis) to his side"CLA77, Andrew Scholtz
13 Closing Discussion “Not to Be Born is Best”? 1-13-99 CLA77, Andrew Scholtz
14 Not to Be Born Is Best? “Not to be born is best when all is reckoned in, but once a man has seen the lightthe next best thing, by far, is to go backback where he came from, quickly as he can.”(Chorus, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus, p. 358)QUESTION: Is this about just oed or about the human condition. answer could come from possible answers. why, for instance, would opposite be better (and thus quote wrong) unless because human existence is inherently worthwhile? and if so, no affirmation of truth of the quote can ignore whether it applies to the human condition.so it bears asking whether we are simply asked to accept this at face value or to interrogate it – a possibility that becomes more likely when we consider that much if not all the time we clearly see choruses struggling and at times failing to grasp situations.—oac in a sense dramatizes the entire span of a human life as a great tragedy, one arousing pity and fear, yet leading through suffering to a mysterious consummation.that consummation for oed involves freedom at last from the great cycle of suffering, whereas antigone and ismene, in their grief, are clearly still emmeshed: they have yet to break free.1943 ff. chorus "But look, / he's free, he's ended his life with blessings - / children, end your grief. No one alive is free of pain." (p. 387 cf. thes.) note ant's transgressive desire to see father's final resting place. note, too, how already, we seem to see here an ant head-over-heals in love with death. warned b y chorus not to return to thebes, girls won't heed. the children grieve because they wish to plum the mysteries of human suffering, mysteries forbidden to human beings except a few. the characters ant and ism thus become stage audience for a tragedy they're forbidden to see - and we, too. in sophoclean tragedy, the final meaning of suffering is hidden from our eyes. the choral ode p. 358 thus reflects the human incapacity to fathom suffering. in a sense, we, like the chorus in that ode, like antigone and ismene, muddle through, struggling but failing to make sense of existence and the concomitant invenitability of suffering. oed and his designated, privileged audience, theseus, see what no human may otherwise see. they understand; to them, it all makes sense. shall we, however, believe? or do we assert our humanity through doubt? i'll let you decide...