Presentation on theme: "The Legend of Oedipus The legend was well-known to all who attended the play. Audience more knowledgeable than the characters about their fate Heightened."— Presentation transcript:
The Legend of Oedipus The legend was well-known to all who attended the play. Audience more knowledgeable than the characters about their fate Heightened dramatic irony You need to know the action of the play!
The First Oracle Laius is the King of Thebes, married to Jocasta. Oracle at Delphi (an oracle of the god Apollo, god of truth) tells Laius that he will be killed by his son. Bummer. When a newborn son is born to Jocasta, the boy’s feet are pinioned and he is put out on a mountain by a shepherd. Sound familiar to anyone?
First Oracle The slave who was to put the boy out takes pity on him and instead gives him to a shepherd from the nearby Corinth. The shepherd gives the boy to the King of Corinth, Polybus, who is childless. Polybus raises Oedipus as if he was his own. No one knows the whole truth of Oedipus’ story (except us!). You can maybe see where this is going…
The Second Oracle About 18 years later… A partygoer calls Oedipus a bastard (please don’t tell your parents) and Oedipus gets upset. He leaves Corinth to visit Delphi and learn the truth about his parentage The oracle gives him a disturbing message… You will kill your father and sleep with your mother. Hmm…not really what he was looking for.
The Second Oracle Not wanting the oracle to come true, Oedipus leaves the oracle and heads towards Thebes. Near the city, he runs into an old man and his traveling companions. The man is rude and will not give way on the road. Being newly upset from the Oracle, Oedipus goes scitzo on the party and kills all but one of the members. Oh, did I mention the old man was none other than King Laius, Oedipus’ estranged father!
The Riddle of the Sphinx Meanwhile, Thebes is being terrorized by a horrible monster who closes off the roads to the city. The monster is the Sphinx, a lion-woman-bird thingy, who kills anyone who cannot answer her riddle. Oedipus, however, is able to answer the riddle and the Sphinx kills herself. He is greeted in Thebes as a hero and is named the new king. He is also given the dead king’s wife as a token of appreciation. Her name is Jocasta. Dun dun dun!
Many years later… Thebes is visited by a horrible plague. Everything is dying – crops, animals, people. No one knows why the plague has visted Thebes. The people need Oedipus’ help to save them.
The Play Begins Oedipus, being the good leader that he is, has anticipated their need. He has sent his brother-in-law (also uncle, if you’re keeping score at home) to the oracle to find the answer he seeks. The oracle says that the plague will be lifted as soon as Laius’ killer is found and punished.
Oracles, shmoracles… In an effort to find the killer, Oedipus sends for the blind seer (did you catch the irony?) Tiresias who names Oedipus the killer. Oedipus (more like Oedi-pissed!) is outraged at the accusation. Jocasta appears to calm her husband and assure him that seers are not always right. Or so she thinks…
Irony, dramatic variety Jocasta cites the oracle that her son would kill his father and have children with her. Obviously this didn’t happen, she says. She prevented it by abandoning her son in the mountains as any loving mother would do. Plus, Laius was killed by a robber on the road to Delphi years ago. You remember, it was like 2 days before you got here! The town was abuzz!
Oedipus’ tummy ache… The news makes Oedipus uneasy, but he is unconvinced that he is the killer/son/incestor. An aged messenger from Corinth arrives right at this moment (good timing!) to announce the death of Polybus. In order to not fulfill his other prophecy, he won’t return to Corinth until his mother is dead.
More stummy problems… To calm his fears, the messenger assures Oedipus that he is a bastard, and that Polybus raised him after a shepherd brought him from the mountain. When the shepherd is brought in to confirm the story, all hell breaks loose. The prophecy has been fulfilled – man has no control over his own fate. He must follow what is ordained of him and suffer all the while.
What happened to J and O? Jocasta is pretty upset by the outcome of this prophecy and she kills herself. Oedipus, in his final act of irony in the play, stabs out his own eyes. Get it? When he can finally see the whole truth, he blinds himself? He then exiles himself – the punishment he had promised for the killer of Laius.
Oedipus had a complex Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual model Mother/son relationship Son wanting to replace the father He wants to have his cake and eat it to, so to speak. Awkward. Freud named this complex after Oedipus, for obvious reasons…