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Oedipus Rex Research Paper

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Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex was first performed in Athens at the festival of the god Dionysus. His audience would have been quite familiar with the story of Oedipus, one of several legends of the city of Thebes. First recorded in the Theban Cycle, a collection of four lost epics circa. Thebes’ troubled history had been compelling to dramatists from the beginning of Greek drama. Aeschylus, the great tragedian who preceded Sophocles, wrote a trilogy centering upon the Oedipus myth, of which only one play is still in existence, Seven Against Thebes. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex borrows elements from both the well-known legend and Aeschylus’ version. The legend begins with Oedipus’ father Laius, the ruler of Thebes, who receives a prophecy from the oracle …show more content…

But when a Corinthian taunts that he is not their true son, Oedipus confronts his parents, who deny the accusation. He consults the oracle at Delphi, and is horrified when it prophesies that he will one day kill his father and marry his mother. To avoid his fate, Oedipus flees Corinth. When he comes to a crossroads, his way is blocked by a nobleman in a chariot, who, unknown to Oedipus, is in fact his true father, Laius. When the nobleman’s driver orders Oedipus to make way, Oedipus loses his temper and a fight ensues, which results in his killing Laius.Meanwhile in Thebes, the Sphinx, a creature with the head of a woman and the beast, feet and tail of a lion, taunts the Thebans with a riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs at midday and three in the evening? Whoever gets the answer wrong is instantly eaten …show more content…

The action of the play is about the deepening and horrible understanding of what it means for the hero to recognize who he is—what it means to be Oedipus. In The Poetics, written nearly a century later. Aristotle frequently refers to Oedipus the King as a definitive example of the form and purpose of tragedy. Modern audiences, though, sometimes find the play baffling, in part because the prophecy delivered to Oedipus’ parents, Laius and Jocasta - that their son will murder his father and marry his mother - seems to rob Oedipus of the ability to act, to decide his fate through his own deeds. The tension between destiny and discovery is central to the play; to understand it, we should pay attention to the function of the oracle at Delphi both in the Greek world and in Oedipus the King. The Greeks consulted the oracle at Delphi on a variety of matters, ranging from personal decisions to problems of state. For example, in the play, Laius and Jocasta have consulted the oracle to learn the future of their child, and Oedipus turns to Delphi to find out whether Polybus is actually his father. At the same time, the oracle also speaks on important public issues—about the cause of the plague afflicting Thebes and about what should be done with Oedipus after his blinding. Sophocles lived in an era of increasing skepticism, when political conflict and the rise of rhetorical training raised

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