Oedipus the Tyrant
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Oedipus the Tyrant

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A series of events prior to the start of Sophocles' tragedy.

A series of events prior to the start of Sophocles' tragedy.

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Oedipus the Tyrant Oedipus the Tyrant Presentation Transcript

  • Oedipus the Tyrant By Sophocles
  • “ What will be will be.”
    • The ancient city of Thebes in Greece was ruled, at one time, by the tyrant Laius, son of Labdacus.
    • “ Tyrant” is the closest English translation of the Greek word for “one who rules without second”, usually elected, sometimes taking power unconstitutionally.
    • Some texts use the word “king” or even the Latin equivalent “ rex ”, but there is no mention of succession or king or queen in the play.
  • Where is Thebes?
  • The Dreadful Prophecy
    • Laius (LIE us) and his wife Iocaste (ee oh KAHS tuh) were childless.
    • Wanting children, Laius visited the shrine of the Oracle at Delphi.
    • The oracle was the human spokesperson of the Greek god Apollo.
    • Oracles were women who lived in seclusion in sacred places.
  • Phythian (Python) Oracle
  • “ A Blessing in Disguise”
    • The oracle indicated that being childless was a blessing in disguise.
    • Laius was warned by the oracle that any child born to Iocaste would become his murderer.
    • Out of fear, Laius exiled his wife without explanation.
    • Her vexation at such rejection spurred a plot in her mind.
    • She seduced her husband through drink and conceived a son.
  • The Desperate Act
    • Panicked, according to one version of the story, Laius forcibly removes the baby from Iocaste’s arms, pierces the child’s feet near the tendon and inserts a metal pin to bind the feet together.
    • Laius carries the stunned baby to Mount Cithaeron, between the cities of Corinth and Thebes, and leaves him with a shepherd with instructions to abandon the baby-- to die.
  • The Compassionate Act
    • Unable to carry out the heartless command, the shepherd instead hands the deformed child over to a second shepherd from Corinth.
    • The baby, named Oedipus (swollen foot) by the shepherd is safe, for now.
  • Mount Cithaeron
  • Corinth : the plot thickens
    • Polybus is the tyrant of Corinth. His wife is Merope (May RO pay). They are childless.
    • The shepherd who received the deformed (at the feet) baby on Mt. Cithaeron informs Polybus of the child.
    • Oedipus has a home. For now.
  • Whose child am I?
    • After 17 or 18 years, a Corinthian youth taunts the startled Oedipus: “You don’t resemble either of your parents” (Polybus and Merope).
    • Only the Oracle at Delphi can clear up this puzzle.
    • The Oracle’s response to Oedipus: “ Away from the shrine, wretch! You will kill your father and marry your mother!”
  • The Horror
    • Because he loves his “parents” so much, the young Oedipus departs from Corinth in great haste.
    • He heads in the direction of Thebes.
    • On the treacherous and narrow mountain road, an oncoming chariot demands the right of way.
  • Make Way!
    • The charioteer orders the young Oedipus to “make way for his betters.”
    • “ I know no betters except the gods and my own parents,” replied the recalcitrant youth.
  • The Encounter
    • The charioteer roughly orders the young Oedipus aside and runs over the stubborn youth’s deformed foot.
    • A blaze of anger erupts and Oedipus, with his walking stick, strikes the older man senseless and flings him to the road.
    • Entangled in the reins he was still holding, his horses drag the older man to his death.
    • The older man was Laius.
  • The Sphinx
    • Prior to his death, Laius had been on a second journey to the Oracle at Delphi.
    • This time, Laius was seeking advice to end the scourge of the Sphinx against Thebes.
    • The Sphinx, a hideous combination of lion, serpent, eagle, and woman, forbade anyone from entering Thebes unless the traveler correctly answered a riddle.
  • The Theban Sphinx
  • The Question
    • Using a riddle taught to “her” by the Three Muses, the Sphinx would ask each traveler on the way to Thebes:
    • “ What being, with only one voice, has sometimes two feet, sometimes three , sometimes four , and is weakest when it has the most?”
  • The Answer
    • Oedipus, on approach to Thebes shortly after he unknowingly killed his natural father, encounters the Sphinx and the riddle and the prospect of death if he answers incorrectly.
    • Some say he answered by pronouncing his name, which the Sphinx misheard:
    • oi dipus
    • (“I, man”),
    • which just so happens to be the right answer.
  • Fortune Smiles?
    • The success of this brash young stranger circulated through Thebes, a city now freed of the terror that was once at its doorstep.
    • The grateful Thebans selected Oedipus to replace Laius, who everyone heard had died at the hands of highwaymen, as tyrant.
    • Oedipus accepts the title and accepts Iocaste as his wife as well—Iocaste, the former wife of Laius, the mother of….
  • A Return to Misfortune
    • Oedipus is proclaimed the new Tyrant of Thebes, and immediately following:
    • A terrible plague descends on the bewildered city of Thebes;
    • Animals mysteriously die;
    • Grain withers in the field;
    • No live births occur.
  • “ Like a ship, rolling dangerously”
    • The Theban elders beg Oedipus for help to save their city.
    • The play by Sophocles begins—now.
  •