Oedipus intro


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Introduction before reading Oedipus the King

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Oedipus intro

  1. 1. Oedipus the King By Sophocles
  2. 2.  The actual Background title in ancient Greek is O e dipus Tyranno s ; in Latin O e dipus Re x .  “ 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 “ re x ” , but there is no mention of succession or king or queen in the play.
  3. 3. Where is Thebes?
  4. 4. The Dreadful Prophecy  The ancient city of Thebes in Greece was ruled, at one time, by Laius, son of Labdacus  Laius and his wife Jocasta 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.
  5. 5. Phythian (Python) Oracle
  6. 6. “I Got 99 Problems…”      The oracle indicated to Laius and Jocasta that being childless was a blessing in disguise. Laius was warned by the oracle that any child born to Jocasta would become Laius’ 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.
  7. 7. Orphaned!  Panicked, according to one version of the story, Laius forcibly removes the baby from Jocasta’ s arms, pierces the child’ s feet near the tendon and inserts a metal pin to bind the baby’ s feet together.  Laius carries the injured 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.
  8. 8. New Lease on Life  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 footed) by the shepherd, is safe… for now.
  9. 9. Mount Cithaeron
  10. 10. Corinth : Home Sweet Home  Polybus is the king/tyrant of Corinth. His wife is Merope . They are childless.  The shepherd who received baby Oedipus on Mt. Cithaeron informs Polybus of the child.  Oedipus has a home.
  11. 11. Orphaned, Part II  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: “ A way fro m the shrine , wre tch! Yo u will kill yo ur fathe r and marry yo ur mo the r!”
  12. 12. The Showdown   Because he loves his (adopted) parents so much, young Oedipus quickly departs from Corinth and heads in the direction of Thebes. On the treacherous and narrow mountain road, several men, one of them a king, in an oncoming chariot demand the right of way.
  13. 13. It’s my way or the highway…  The king orders the young Oedipus to “ make way for his betters.”  “ I know no betters except the gods and my own parents,” replied the headstrong Oedipus.
  14. 14. One thing leads to another…     The king moves to strike young Oedipus with his scepter. In a rage, Oedipus, with his walking stick, strikes the older king and flings him to the road. Oedipus proceeds to kill all of the men in the group except for one. The older king was Laius. :O
  15. 15. The Sphinx  Prior to his death at the hands of Oedipus, Laius had been on a second journey to the Oracle at Delphi.  This time, Laius was seeking advice to end the plague 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.
  16. 16. The Theban Sphinx
  17. 17. The Sphinx’s Riddle  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?”
  18. 18. The Riddle’s Answer  Oedipus, arriving in 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: o i dipus (“ I, man” ), which just so happens to be the right answer.
  19. 19. You Win?  The success of young Oedipus circulated through Thebes, a city now freed of the terror that was once at its doorstep.  The grateful Thebans select Oedipus to replace Laius, who everyone heard had died at the hands of highwaymen, as king/tyrant.  Oedipus accepts the title and accepts Jocasta as his wife as well—Jocasta, the former wife of Laius, the mother of….
  20. 20. If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother…  Oedipus is proclaimed the new king/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.”
  21. 21. Here we go again…  The Theban elders beg Oedipus for help to save their city.  The play by Sophocles begins— now.