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Oedipus at Colonus


The events leading to the plot of Antigone.

The events leading to the plot of Antigone.

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  • 1. Oedipus at Colonus The Third Play in the Theban Trilogy by Sophocles
  • 2. Chronology
    • Although the third play in Sophocles’ Theban Trilogy, the events occur after the self imposed exile of Oedipus.
    • The play begins with Oedipus and his daughter Antigone entering the village of Colonus.
    • The pair are met by a villager who demands that they leave because the ground is sacred to the Furies.
  • 3. The Avengers
    • The Furies or Erinyes emerged from the darkest, deepest chasms of creation.
    • They punished anyone who had violated the natural order.
    • Killing a parent is such a violation.
  • 4. Civil War
    • Ismene arrives rejoicing to see her father and sister.
    • She brings news of impending war.
    • Eteocles, son of Oedipus, refused to relinquish the authority he agreed to hold jointly with his brother as co-tyrant in Thebes.
    • Power was to pass back and forth from Eteocles to Polyneices, his brother, every six months.
    • Polyneices gathered an army to force Eteocles to stand by the original agreement.
  • 5. Prophetic Interest
    • An old prophecy foretold victory in battle to any city where Oedipus lay buried.
    • The aged pariah became a person of interest again.
    • Polyneices and Creon together intended to unfairly influence the horribly disgraced former tyrant, father, and brother-in-law.
  • 6. By Any Means Necessary
    • Creon attempted to force Oedipus back to Thebes by kidnapping Antigone and holding her in Thebes along with Ismene, already taken.
    • Creon wants to bury Oedipus outside of the city to prevent any undue influence.
    • Theseus, tyrant of nearby Athens and supporter of Oedipus, bollixed the plan and rescued Antigone.
    • Polyneices tried something else.
  • 7. “ Forgive me, father”
    • Polyneices admitted that he, not Antigone, should have remained by his father’s side.
    • But Oedipus was no fool; fate had taught him well.
    • He refused to forgive his son. He loathed the sound of his son’s voice.
    • Instead, in grave terms, he foretold the deaths of both his sons in a futile battle.
  • 8. Determination
    • Returning to Thebes without his father but with his father’s prophetic words, Polyneices vowed nonetheless to battle his brother.
    • He wanted to appear as a determined and capable leader to his followers.
    • Antigone stated her undying support for her brother by vowing to care for his remains when the inevitable happened.
  • 9. An Exalted Exit
    • At an olive grove near Colonus, Oedipus was summoned to the afterlife by the gods themselves.
    • Theseus, his ally from Athens, witnessed the mystical passage.
    • Theseus ever refused to divulge the details of the event.
  • 10.  
  • 11. Seven Against Thebes
    • Polyneices and six loyal chieftains attempted to invade the city held by Eteocles, the rebellious brother.
    • Each chieftain and Polyneices, with their armies, attacked one of the seven gates to the city.
    • The Theban army repulsed the attackers.
  • 12. The Final Insult
    • Eteocles and Polyneices died at each other’s hands during the attack.
    • Creon, the new head of Thebes, heralded the bravery of Eteocles and provided his corpse the proper rites of burial.
    • He left the body of Polyneices to rot, for the animals and birds to consume.
    • The play Antigone begins, with the two sisters in front of the seven gated city.
  • 13.