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Oedipus the King 2010 Reading Club

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1 Oedipus the King 2010 Reading Club

2 Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
probably the most famous tragedy ever written. It is known by a variety of titles (the most common being Oedipus Rex), including Oedipus the King and Oedipus Tyrannus. Sophocles first produced the play in Athens around 430 B.C. at the Great Dionysia, a religious and cultural festival held in honor of the god Dionysus, where it won second prize. In the play Oedipus, King of Thebes, upon

3 Translation (1) Thomas Francklin, 1759 – verse
Edward H. Plumptre, 1865 – verse: full text Richard C. Jebb, 1904 – prose: full text Gilbert Murray, 1911 – verse Francis Storr, 1912 – verse: full text William Butler Yeats, 1928 – mixed prose and verse David Grene, 1942 (revised ed. 1991) – verse E.F. Watling, 1947 – verse Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald, 1949 – verse

4 Translation (2) Theodore Howard Banks, 1956 – verse
Albert Cook, 1957 – verse Bernard Knox, 1959 – prose H. D. F. Kitto, 1962 – verse Stephen Berg and Diskin Clay – verse Robert Bagg, 1982 (revised ed. 2004) – verse Robert Fagles, 1984 – verse Nick Bartel, 1999 – verse: abridged text Kenneth McLeish, Verse George Theodoridis, 2005 – prose: full text Luci Berkowitz and Theodore F. Brunner, 1970 – prose Ian Johnston, 2004 – verse: full text

5 Ancient Greek Tragedy video:

6 Ancient Greek Theatre.flv

7 Three Theban plays: Not a trilogy
Oedipus the King  Oedipus at Colonus  Antigone. Antigone was first performed in 442 BCE. Oedipus the King was first performed c. 429 BCE. Oedipus at Colonus was written shortly before Sophocles' death in 406 BC and produced by his grandson (also called Sophocles) at the Festival of Dionysus in 401 BCE.

8 People and places to know:
Oedipus Jocasta Laius Polybus Merope Sphinx Teiresias (Tiresias ) Apollo Delphi Cithaeron Thebes (the House of Cadamus)



11 a winged female monster in Greek mythology having a woman's head and a lion's body and noted for killing anyone unable to answer its riddle

12 an ancient Egyptian image in the form of a recumbent lion having a man's head, a ram's head, or a hawk's head



15 The structure of Greek Tragedy
Prologue, 1-150 Parodos, First Episode, First Stasimon, Second Episode, Second Stasimon, Third Episode, Third Stasimon, Fourth Episode, Fourth Stasimon, Exodos,


17 Introduction The setting of the Oedipus the King as in the case of most Greek tragedies, does not require a change of scene. Throughout the play the skene with at least one door represents the facade of the royal palace of Thebes.

18 Prologue (1-150) - Oedipus, Priest and Creon
Read (1)

19 Prologue, 1-150. (Priest, Oedipus, Creon)
The priests of Thebes appear before Oedipus as suppliants, entreating him to find some end to the plague. Oedipus has already sent Creon to Delphi, who arrives to report that the killer of Laius must be sought out and banished. Oedipus vows to find the killer and summons the people of the city.

20 Prologue (1-150) - Oedipus, Priest and Creon
What is the dramatic purpose of the prologue? How does Oedipus characterize himself (8)? What is his attitude toward the suppliants (13-14)?

21 Pollution/ miasma blood pollution that infects the family, and for a royal family the city itself The Plague of Thebes, oil on canvas, Charles François Jalabeat (French, )

22 Oedipus "Oidi-pous“ in Greek means "swollen footed”
But we can also analyze Oedipus in at least two other ways: oidi- to a Greek sounds like oida, oide = "I know, he knows" (a central theme in the play) -dipous to a Greek means the "two-footed one," with obvious associations to the riddle of the Sphinx (another central theme)

23 Oedipus Man of action, caring but haughty: 7ff, 71ff etc.
Revealer of the truth: 150 Solver of riddles: 443ff (e.g.)

24 Parodos , The Chorus of Theban citizens offer prayers to Zeus, Apollo, Athena for release from the plague.

25 Parados ( ) What is the reaction of the Chorus to the advice of Apollo ('the Delian Healer') to Thebes ( )? What conditions in Thebes does the Chorus describe ( )? Video:

26 Delphi The Pythia was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.

27 Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier

28 chorus is an "act-dividing song":
allows for entrances and exits allows for the scene to change marks the passage of time chorus comments directly or indirectly on what is going on

29 First Episode , Read (2): p.6, p.7-11

30 First Episode , Oedipus appeals for information and pronounces his curse on the murderer. Teiresias is summoned: at first he refuses to tell what he knows, but aroused by Oedipus' taunts he declares Oedipus the murderer. Oedipus declares a conspiracy by Creon. Teiresias declares that the murderer is present, and will be found son and husband to his mother.

31 First Episode (216-462) - Oedipus, Chorus and Teiresias
Explain the following ironies in Oedipus's speech ( ; ; ; ). Why does Oedipus summon Teiresias ( )? What is Teiresias's reaction to Oedipus's request for help ( )?

32 I must know. Know thyself!
But knowing is itself problematized in the Oedipus the King: central to the text is not only what is known and by whom, but what it means to "know"-- what is "true" knowing. Insight and blindness

33 Apollo versus Oedipus:
divine versus human knowledge Apollo sun, day, clear, blazing, burning fever, blazing, burning: sender of plague and the Healer intelligence, clear, seeing brilliance, poetry truth (knowledge), clear, seeing divine prophecy, clear, seeing

34 Prophet/ Tiresias Teiresias, the seer of Oedipus the King: Sophocles’ and Seneca’s versions South Italian Red-figure bowl. Detail: Tiresias seated holding sacrificial knife as Odysseus (left) stands by him

35 First Stasimon ( ) What is the Chorus's view of Teiresias's accusations against Oedipus ( ; )?

36 Suffering= pathos What has Oedipus done to deserve such awful suffering? Why must he suffer?

37 Tragedy=an aesthetic question mark
The dramatic expression of an enquiry into suffering, an aesthetic question mark performed in enacted pain. While representing an instance of suffering in dramatic form, always asks why it has occurred. Pathology= the study of diseases Etiology= the causes of diseases or a study of causes

38 hubris "ungodly pride" (hubris) or "tragic flaw" (hamartia)

39 First Stasimon , The Chorus are fearful of the pronouncement of the seer, but declare their loyalty to their king.

40 Second Episode , 513-862. (Creon, Oedipus, Chorus; Jocasta)
Read (3): p.17-18

41 Second Episode , 513-862. (Creon, Oedipus, Chorus; Jocasta)
Creon is indignant at Oedipus' accusations. They argue over the charge. Jocasta tries to intervene. Kommos , The Chorus advise restraint and Oedipus lets Creon go, though he declares him an enemy. Oedipus tells Jocasta the source of the dispute. Jocasta tells the story of Laius' death, and Oedipus recognizes many details: but he was a lone killer, whereas a band of killers was reported. Oedipus worries about the oracle; Jocasta denounces its veracity, adducing the prophesy about her son.

42 Second Stasimon , 863-910. (Chorus)
Read (4): p.20-21

43 Second Stasimon , 863-910. (Chorus)
Ode to the sanctity of divine law. The tyrant who ignores justice and reverence for the gods will fall. The oracles must be true.

44 Third Episode , 911-1085. (Jocasta, Messenger, Chorus; Oedipus)
A messenger arrives from Corinth announcing the death of Polybus and Oedipus' ascension. He allays Oedipus' fear of the oracle (that he will marry his mother) by telling him of his true birth. Over Jocasta's objections Oedipus vows to continue his search for the truth. Jocasta runs into the palace.

45 Third Stasimon , 1086-1109. (Chorus)
Ode to Mt. Cithaeron: we will soon know the parentage of Oedipus.

46 Fourth Episode , 1110-1185. (Oedipus, Shepherd, Chorus)
The shepherd arrives who exposed the infant of Laius and escaped when Laius was killed. Oedipus' parentage becomes clear. Oedipus rushes into the palace.

47 Fourth Stasimon , 1186-1222. (Chorus)
No man is blest: happiness is but an illusion, for even the great power and blessings of Oedipus have come to a fall.

48 Exodos , Read (5): p.27-32

49 Exodos , 1223-1530. (Messenger, Chorus; Oedipus, Creon)
A messenger announces the suicide of Jocasta and the self-inflicted blinding of Oedipus. Oedipus appears to lament his fate. Creon appears. Oedipus begs him to take care of his children; Antigone and Ismene (mute) arrive to comfort their father. Creon persuades Oedipus to return to the palace, and assumes the kingship.

50 Recommended Greek Tragedy

51 Thank you!

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