Oedipus The King

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Oedipus The King

  1. 1. Oedipus the King
  2. 2. Two Daughters Antigone <ul><li>Antigone, had the better judgment, and Ismene with all the good intentions. </li></ul><ul><li>They were both two extraordinary women that went through a lot together despite their differences. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Two Sons <ul><li>Eteocles and Polyneices </li></ul>The princes who had refused to share their inheritance shared death instead
  4. 4. Plot <ul><li>1. The play begins years after Oedipus is given the throne of Thebes. </li></ul>10. The play ends with Oedipus entrusting his children to Creon and leaving in exile, as he promised would be the fate of Laius' murderer. 2. The chorus of Thebans cries out to Oedipus for salvation from the plague sent by the gods in response to Laius' murder . 3. Throughout the play, Oedipus searches for Laius' murderer and promises to exile the man responsible for it, ignorant of the fact that he is the murderer. 4. The blind prophet, Teiresias , is called to aid Oedipus in his search; however, after warning Oedipus not to follow through with the investigation, Oedipus accuses him of being the murderer, even though Teiresias is blind and aged. 5. Oedipus also accuses Teiresias of conspiring with Creon , Jocasta's brother, to overthrow him. 6. Oedipus then calls for one of Laius' former servants, the only surviving witness of the murder, who fled the city when Oedipus became king to avoid being the one to reveal the truth. 7. Soon a messenger from Corinth also arrives to inform Oedipus of the death of Polybus, whom Oedipus still believes is his real father. At this point the messenger informs him that he was in fact adopted and his real parentage is unknown. 8. In the subsequent discussions between Oedipus, Jocasta, the servant, and the messenger, Jocasta guesses the truth and runs away. 9. Oedipus is stubborn; however, a second messenger arrives and reveals that Jocasta has hanged herself and Oedipus, upon discovering her body, blinds himself with the golden brooches on her dress.
  5. 5. Background <ul><li>The main character of the tragedy is Oedipus , son of King Laius of Thebes and Queen Jocasta . </li></ul><ul><li>After Laius learned from an oracle that &quot;he was doomed/To perish by the hand of his own son,&quot; Jocasta ordered a messenger to leave him for dead &quot;In Cithaeron's wooded glens&quot;; </li></ul><ul><li>Instead, the baby was given to a shepherd and raised in the court of King Polybus of Corinth . </li></ul><ul><li>When Oedipus grew up he learned from the oracle, Loxias , that he was destined to &quot;Mate with [his] own mother, and shed/ With [his] own hands the blood of [his] own sire,“ </li></ul><ul><li>and left Corinth under the belief that Polybus and Merope, Polybus' wife, were his true parents. </li></ul><ul><li>On the road to Thebes , he met Laius and they argued over which wagon had the right-of-way. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus' pride led him to kill Laius, ignorant of the fact that he was his biological father, fulfilling part of the oracle's prophecy. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus then went on to solve the Sphinx 's riddle : &quot;What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?&quot; To this Oedipus answered &quot;Man,“ </li></ul><ul><li>Distraught that her riddle had been answered correctly, the Sphinx threw herself off the side of the wall. </li></ul><ul><li>His reward for freeing the kingdom of Thebes from the Sphinx's curse was kingship and the hand of the queen , Jocasta, who was also his biological mother. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled. This myth was well-known to the Greeks, which added to the tragedy of the play. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Oedipus & sphinx
  7. 7. Prophecy in Oedipus the King <ul><li>There are two major prophecies in Oedipus. The most well known was given to Oedipus shortly before he left Corinth: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Aye, 'tis no secret. Apollo once foretold That I should mate with mine own mother, and shed With my own hands the blood of my own sire. Hence Corinth was for many a year to me. A home distant; and I trove abroad, But missed the sweetest sight, my parents' face. ” </li></ul><ul><li>Later in the play, Jocasta relates the prophecy that was told to Laius before the birth of Oedipus. Laius was only told of the incipient parricide and not of the incest: </li></ul><ul><li>“ An oracle Once came to Laius (I will not say 'Twas from the Delphic god himself, but from His ministers) declaring he was doomed to perish by the hand of his own son, A child that should be born to him by me. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Apollo <ul><li>Apollo, the Sun god, brings life-giving heat and light to Earth. </li></ul><ul><li>As patron god of musicians and poets, he carries a lyre and his symbol represents the “egg of creation”. </li></ul><ul><li>He is considered the ideal of manly beauty, so that a very handsome man might be called an “Apollo”. He is also the god of poetry and music. </li></ul><ul><li>Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans . </li></ul><ul><li>Apollo is son of Zeus and Leto , and the twin brother of the chaste huntress Artemis , who took the place of Selene in some myths as goddess of the moon. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Apollo <ul><li>In Greek and Roman mythology , Apollo, (a beardless youth), was the archer-god of medicine and healing, light, truth, archery and also a bringer of death-dealing plague . </li></ul><ul><li>He was a mortal medical healer who was so successful that he was reputed to have the ability to bring the dead back to life; which resulted in complaints by Hades. As a result, to keep peace in the godly family, Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt. </li></ul><ul><li>After his death, Aesculapius became a god and he was also placed among the constellations, where he is pictured as a man holding a serpent in his hands (similar to the following image). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Delphi <ul><li>Delphi ( Greek ) is an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis . </li></ul><ul><li>Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle , most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and it was a major site for the worship of the god Apollo . </li></ul><ul><li>Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo , as well as the Pythian Games and the famous prehistoric oracle. </li></ul><ul><li>His sacred precinct in Delphi was a Panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games . </li></ul><ul><li>Delphi was revered throughout the Greek world as the site of the omphalos stone, the centre of the earth and the universe. </li></ul><ul><li>In the inner hestia (&quot;hearth&quot;) of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame burned. </li></ul><ul><li>the oracle of Delphi never predicted the future, but gave guarded advice on how impiety might be cleansed and incumbent disaster avoided </li></ul>
  11. 11. Epithets <ul><li>name Delphoi is connected with &quot; hollow &quot; or &quot; womb “ </li></ul><ul><li>Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet Delphinios , &quot;the Delphinian&quot;, i.e. either &quot;the one of Delphi&quot;, or &quot;the one of the womb&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>The epithet is connected with dolphins (the &quot;womb-fish&quot;) in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (line 400), telling how Apollo first came to Delphi in the shape of a dolphin, carrying Cretan priests on his back. </li></ul>a descriptive word or phrase added to or substituted for the name of somebody or something, highlighting a feature or quality
  12. 12. Legends <ul><li>A legend held that Apollo walked to Delphi from the north and stopped at Tempe , a city in Thessaly to pick laurel, a plant sacred to him (generally known in English as the bay tree). </li></ul><ul><li>In commemoration of this legend, the winners at the Pythian Games received a wreath of laurel (bay leaves) picked in Tempe. </li></ul><ul><li>Supposedly carved into the temple were the phrases &quot; know thyself &quot;) and &quot;nothing in excess&quot;), as well as a large letter E . </li></ul><ul><li>When young, Apollo killed the chthonic serpent Python , who according to some because Python had attempted to rape Leto (his mother) while she was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis (his brother). </li></ul><ul><li>The bodies of the pair were draped around his Rod, which, with the wings created the caduceus symbolic of the god. This spring flowed toward the temple but disappeared beneath, creating a cleft which emitted vapors that caused the Oracle at Delphi to give her prophecies. </li></ul><ul><li>Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since she was a child of Gaia. The shrine dedicated to Apollo was originally dedicated to Gaia and then, possibly to Poseidon . The name Pythia remained as the title of the Delphic Oracle . </li></ul><ul><li>As punishment for this murder Apollo was sent to serve in menial tasks for eight years. </li></ul><ul><li>A festival, the Septeria, was performed annually portraying the slaying of the serpent, the flight, the atonement and the return of the God. </li></ul><ul><li>Pythian Games took place every four years to commemorate his victory </li></ul>
  13. 13. Pythia <ul><li>Python was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos , and that it is a case of one deity setting up a temple on the grave of another. </li></ul><ul><li>Another view holds that Apollo was a fairly recent addition to the Greek pantheon coming originally from Lydia . </li></ul>
  14. 14. Delphic oracle Delphic Pythia sitting on a tripod, attended by a supplicant. Note the low ceiling that causes the Delphic oracle to stoop, the hollow floor and the barrier that separates Pythia from the supplicant.
  15. 15. Oracle <ul><li>Delphi is perhaps best-known for the oracle at the sanctuary that became dedicated to Apollo during the classical period. </li></ul><ul><li>The priestess of the oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia . Apollo spoke through his oracle, who had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants of the area. </li></ul><ul><li>The sybyl or prophetess took the name Pythia and sat on a tripod seat over an opening in the earth. </li></ul><ul><li>When Apollo slew Python, its body fell into this fissure, according to legend, and fumes arose from its decomposing body. Intoxicated by the vapors, the sibyl would fall into trance, allowing Apollo to possess her spirit. In this state she prophesied. </li></ul><ul><li>She spoke in riddles, which were interpreted by the priests of the temple, and people consulted her on everything from important matters of public policy to personal affairs. </li></ul><ul><li>The Oracle exerted considerable influence throughout the Greek world, and she was consulted before all major undertakings: wars, the founding of colonies, and so forth. She also was respected by the semi-Hellenic countries around the Greek world, such as Lydia , Caria , and even Egypt . </li></ul>
  16. 16. Temple of Apollo The Temple of Apollo, seen from below
  17. 17. View of the stadium of the Delphi sanctuary, used for the Pythian Games . The stone steps on the right were added under the Romans.
  18. 18. Analyses <ul><li>According to Aristotle , a tragedy must be an imitation of life in the form of a serious story that is complete in itself; in other words, the story must be realistic and narrow in focus. </li></ul><ul><li>A good tragedy will evoke pity and fear in its viewers, causing the viewers to experience a feeling of catharsis. </li></ul><ul><li>Catharsis, in Greek, means &quot;purgation&quot; or &quot;purification&quot;; running through the gamut of these strong emotions will leave viewers feeling elated, in the same way we often claim that &quot;a good cry&quot; will make one feel better. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Characteristics of a Tragic Hero <ul><li>He must be &quot;better than we are,&quot; a man who is superior to the average man in some way. In Oedipus's case, he is superior not only because of social standing, but also because he is smart ­ he is the only person who could solve the Sphinx's riddle. </li></ul><ul><li>At the same time, a tragic hero must evoke both pity and fear , and Aristotle claims that the best way to do this is if he is imperfect. A character with a mixture of good and evil is more compelling that a character who is merely good. And Oedipus is definitely not perfect; although a clever man, he is blind to the truth and refuses to believe Teiresias's warnings. Although he is a good father, he unwittingly fathered children in incest. </li></ul><ul><li>A tragic hero suffers because of his hamartia , a Greek word that is often translated as &quot;tragic flaw&quot; but really means &quot;error in judgement.&quot; Often this flaw or error has to do with fate ­ a character tempts fate, thinks he can change fate or doesn't realize what fate has in store for him. In Oedipus the King, fate is an idea that surfaces again and again. </li></ul><ul><li>The focus on fate reveals another aspect of a tragedy as outlined by Aristotle : dramatic irony. Good tragedies are filled with irony . The audience knows the outcome of the story already, but the hero does not, making his actions seem ignorant or inappropriate in the face of what is to come. Whenever a character attempts to change fate, this is ironic to an audience who knows that the tragic outcome of the story cannot be avoided. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Dramatic Irony <ul><li>Dramatic irony plays an important part in Oedipus the King. </li></ul><ul><li>Its story revolves around two different attempts to change the course of fate: Jocasta and Laius's killing of Oedipus at birth and Oedipus's flight from Corinth later on. In both cases, an oracle's prophecy comes true regardless of the characters' actions. </li></ul><ul><li>Jocasta kills her son only to find him restored to life and married to her. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus leaves Corinth only to find that in so doing he has found his real parents and carried out the oracle's words. </li></ul><ul><li>Both Oedipus and Jocasta prematurely exult over the failure of oracles, only to find that the oracles were right after all. </li></ul><ul><li>Each time a character tries to avert the future predicted by the oracles, the audience knows their attempt is futile, creating the sense of irony that permeates the play. </li></ul><ul><li>Even the manner in which Oedipus and Jocasta express their disbelief in oracles is ironic. In an attempt to comfort Oedipus, Jocasta tells him that oracles are powerless; yet at the beginning of the very next scene we see her praying to the same gods whose powers she has just mocked. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus rejoices over Polybus's death as a sign that oracles are fallible, yet he will not return to Corinth for fear that the oracle's statements concerning Meropé could still come true. </li></ul><ul><li>Regardless of what they say, both Jocasta and Oedipus continue to suspect that the oracles could be right, that gods can predict and affect the future ­ and of course the audience knows they can. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Dramatic Irony … cont. <ul><li>If Oedipus discounts the power of oracles, he values the power of truth. Instead of relying on the gods, Oedipus counts on his own ability to root out the truth; after all, he is a riddle-solver. </li></ul><ul><li>The contrast between trust in the gods' oracles and trust in intelligence plays out in this story like the contrast between religion and science in nineteenth-century novels. But the irony is, of course, that the oracles and Oedipus's scientific method both lead to the same outcome. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus's search for truth reveals just that, and the truth revealed fulfills the oracles' prophesies. Ironically, it is Oedipus's rejection of the oracles that uncovers their power; he relentlessly pursues truth instead of trusting in the gods, and his detective work finally reveals the fruition of the oracles' words. As Jocasta says, if he could just have left well enough alone, he would never have discovered the horrible workings of fate. </li></ul><ul><li>In his search for the truth, Oedipus shows himself to be a thinker, a man good at unraveling mysteries. This is the same characteristic that brought him to Thebes; he was the only man capable of solving the Sphinx's riddle. His intelligence is what makes him great, yet it is also what makes him tragic; his problem-solver's mind leads him on as he works through the mystery of his birth. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Oedipus myth, marriage to Jocasta was the prize for ridding Thebes of the Sphinx. Thus Oedipus's intelligence, a trait that brings Oedipus closer to the gods, is what causes him to commit the most heinous of all possible sins. </li></ul><ul><li>In killing the Sphinx, Oedipus is the city's savior, but in killing Laius (and marrying Jocasta), he is its scourge, the cause of the blight that has struck the city at the play's opening. </li></ul><ul><li>The irony is that sight here means two different things. Oedipus is blessed with the gift of perception; he was the only man who could &quot;see&quot; the answer to the Sphinx's riddle. Yet he cannot see what is right before his eyes. He is blind to the truth, for all he seeks it. </li></ul><ul><li>He scourges his eyes in order to see the truth </li></ul>
  22. 22. Sphynx’ riddle <ul><li>Oedipus himself proves to be that same man, an embodiment of the Sphinx's riddle. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus is more that merely the solver of the Sphinx's riddle, he himself is the answer. </li></ul><ul><li>There is much talk of Oedipus's birth and his exposure as an infant ­ here is the baby of which the Sphinx speaks, crawling on four feet (even though two of Oedipus's are pinioned). Oedipus throughout most of the play is the adult man, standing on his own two feet instead of relying on others, even gods. </li></ul><ul><li>And at the end of the play, Oedipus will leave Thebes an old blind man, using a cane. </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, Oedipus's name means &quot;swollen foot&quot; because of the pins through his ankles as a baby; thus even as a baby and a young man he has a limp and uses a cane: a prefiguring of the &quot;three-legged&quot; old man he will become. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Teiresias <ul><li>Teiresias's presence in the play, then, is doubly important. As a blind old man, he foreshadows Oedipus's own future, and the more Oedipus mocks his blindness, the more ironic he sounds to the audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Teiresias is a man who understands the truth without the use of his sight; Oedipus is the opposite, a sighted man who is blind to the truth right before him. Soon Oedipus will switch roles with Teiresias, becoming a man who sees the truth and loses his sense of sight. </li></ul>
  24. 24. The structure of this play <ul><li>There are two ways to read the story of Oedipus. </li></ul><ul><li>One is to say that he is a puppet of fate, incapable of doing anything to change the destiny that fate has in store for him. </li></ul><ul><li>As a puppet of fate, Oedipus cannot affect the future that the oracle has predicted for him. As the Chorus says, &quot;Time sees all;&quot; fate and the course of time are more powerful than anything a human being can do. Oedipus's tragic end is not his fault; he is merely a pawn in the celestial workings of fate. </li></ul><ul><li>Another is to say that the events of the play are his fault, that he possesses the &quot;flaw&quot; that sets these events into action. </li></ul><ul><li>He seems to make important mistakes or errors in judgement (hamartia) that set the events of the story into action. His pride, blindness, and foolishness all play a part in the tragedy that befalls him. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus's pride sets it all off; when a drunken man tells him that he is a bastard, his pride is so wounded that he will not let the subject rest, eventually going to the oracle of Apollo to ask it the truth. </li></ul><ul><li>The oracle's words are the reason why he leaves Corinth, and in leaving Corinth and traveling to Thebes, he fulfills the oracle's prophecy. </li></ul><ul><li>A less proud man may not have needed to visit the oracle, giving him no reason to leave Corinth in the first place. In the immediate events of the play, Oedipus's pride continues to be a flaw that leads to the story's tragic ending. </li></ul><ul><li>He is too proud to consider the words of the prophet Teiresias, choosing, instead to rely on his own sleuthing powers. Teiresias warns him not to pry into these matters, but pride in his intelligence leads Oedipus to continue his search. </li></ul><ul><li>He values truth attained through scientific enquiry over words and warnings from the gods; this is the result of his overweening pride. Another word for pride that causes one to disregard the gods is the Greek word hubris. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Foolish and blind <ul><li>Foolishly he leaves his home in Corinth without further investigating the oracle's words; after all, he goes to the oracle to ask if he is his father's son, then leaves without an answer to this question. </li></ul><ul><li>Finding out who his true father is seems important for someone who has just been told he will kill his father. </li></ul><ul><li>Nor is Oedipus particularly intelligent about the way he conducts himself. Even though he did not know that Laius and Jocasta were his parents, he still does kill a man old enough to be his father and marry a woman old enough to be his mother. </li></ul><ul><li>One would think that a man with as disturbing a prophesy over his head as Oedipus would be very careful about who he married or killed. </li></ul><ul><li>Blindly he pursues the truth when others warn him not to; </li></ul><ul><li>although he has already fulfilled the prophesy, he does not know it, and if he left well enough alone, he could continue to live in blissful ignorance. </li></ul><ul><li>But instead he stubbornly and foolishly rummages through his past until he discovers the awful truth. </li></ul><ul><li>In this way, Jocasta's death and his blindness are his own fault. </li></ul>
  26. 26. In General <ul><li>Regardless of the way you read the play, Oedipus the King is a powerful work of drama. </li></ul><ul><li>Collapsing the events of the play into the moments before and after Oedipus's realization, Sophocles catches and heightens the drama. </li></ul><ul><li>Using dramatic irony to involve the audience, the characters come alive in all their flawed glory. </li></ul><ul><li>The play achieves that catharsis of which Aristotle speaks by showing the audience a man not unlike themselves, a man who is great but not perfect, who is a good father, husband, and son, and yet who unwillingly destroys parents, wife and children. </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus is human, regardless of his pride, his intelligence, or his stubbornness, and we recognize this in his agonizing reaction to his sin. Watching this, the audience is certainly moved to both pity and fear: pity for this broken man, and fear that his tragedy could be our own. </li></ul>

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