Context Greek Theater Greek theater was very different from what we call theater today. It was, first of all, part of a religious festival. To attend a performance of one of these plays was an act of worship, not entertainment or intellectual pastime.
Although the truth was often a terrifying concept, they still saw it as a critical virtue.
The theater was one way in which the ideas of knowledge and truth were examined. Many Greek dramatists use the self-realizations of their characters to underscore the themes of their tragedies. Sophocles, for one, uses the character transformation of Oedipus, in tandem with the plot, to highlight the theme of his famous work, Oedipus the King.
As Oedipus grows in terrifying self-knowledge, he changes from a prideful, heroic king at the beginning of the play, to a tyrant in denial toward the middle, to a fearful, condemned man, humbled by his tragic fate by the end.
At first, Oedipus appears to be a confident, valiant hero. This is especially true during the situation alluded to at the beginning of the drama, when he solves the Sphinx's riddle.
Although Oedipus is not a native Theban, he still chooses to answer the riddle of the Sphinx despite her threat of death to anyone who fails to answer correctly. Only a man like Oedipus, a man possessing tremendous self-confidence, could have such courage.
When Oedipus succeeds, freeing the city from the Sphinx's evil reign, he becomes instantly famous and known for his bravery and intelligence.
A temple priest reveals the respect the Thebans have for their king when he tells Oedipus, "You freed us from the Sphinx, you came to Thebes and cut us loose from the bloody tribute we had paid that harsh, brutal singer. We taught you nothing, no skill, no extra knowledge, still you triumphed" Here, Oedipus' bold actions seem to be a blessing, a special gift from the gods used to benefit the city as a whole.
Indeed Oedipus is idealized by the Thebans, yet at times he seems to spite the gods, assuming authority that normally belongs to them. For example, he pompously tells the Chorus, which implores the gods for deliverance from the city plague, "You pray to the gods?
Let me grant your prayers" Yet the people accept, even long for, this language from their king. Since the gods don't seem to give them aid, they place their hopes in Oedipus, this noble hero who has saved Thebes in the past and pledges to save it again.
Soon, however, Oedipus' character changes to a man in denial-a man more like a tyrant than a king-as he begins to solve the new riddle of Laius' death. A growing paranoia grips Oedipus when Jocasta recounts the story of her husband's murder, leading the king to suspect his own past actions.
He remarks, absentmindedly, "Strange, hearing you just now. Yet Oedipus is not quick to blame himself for the plague of the city-indeed he tries to place the burden onto others as he continues his investigation, blindly trusting his own superior ability while ignoring the damaging evidence that surrounds him.
For example, when Tiresias accuses Oedipus of being the murderer, the king takes the counter-offensive, actually accusing Tiresias of the murder when he asserts, "You helped hatch the plot, you did the work, yes, short of killing him with your own hands.
Similarly, he blames Creon for conspiracy and treason, charging, "I see it all, the marauding thief himself scheming to steal my crown and power!
In this way, Oedipus chooses to attack the messenger while disregarding the message. Besides spiting the prophet, Oedipus also fuels the wrath of the gods, who vest their divine wisdom in Tiresias. The Chorus underscores the vengeance of the gods when it warns, "But if any man comes striding, high and mighty, in all he says and does, no fear of justice, no reverence for the temples of the gods-let a rough doom tear him down, repay his pride, breakneck, ruinous pride!
Here, Sophocles portrays Oedipus as a tyrant of sorts; indeed the peoples' greatest blessing has become their worst curse. Lastly, Oedipus becomes a man humbled with the pain and dejection of knowing the truth of reality as the overwhelming evidence forces him to admit his tragic destiny.
Sophocles shows the sudden change in his protagonist's persona when Oedipus condemns himself, saying, "I stand revealed at last-cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage, cursed in the lives I cut down with these hands!
Yet the transformation of Oedipus' character is most clearly demonstrated when he chooses to gouge out his eyes. Now, finally seeing his horrible fate, he makes himself physically blind like Tiresias, the true seer told he was blind to the truth. Oedipus furthers Sophocles' sight metaphor when he defends his decision to humble himself through blindness: Nothing I could see could bring me joy" Consequently, Oedipus can no longer be called a tyrant, let alone a king, after being humiliated in this way, unable to see or even walk without assistance.Since the first performance of Oedipus Rex, the story has fascinated critics just as it fascinated Sophocles.
Aristotle used this play and its plot as the supreme example of tragedy. Aristotle used this play and its plot as the supreme example of tragedy. Yet Sophocles is not simply referring to the fictional character of Oedipus; Oedipus the King was intended to reflect the nature of the Athenian rulers of the time.
Like Oedipus, these rulers were bold and daring, known for their intelligence and heroism. Since the first performance of Oedipus Rex, the story has fascinated critics just as it fascinated Sophocles. Aristotle used this play and its plot as the supreme example of tragedy.
Aristotle used this play and its plot as the supreme example of tragedy. Summary of Oedipus Rex. Oedipus Rex is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. The story takes place in ancient Thebes. King Laius and Queen Jocasta, long before the play takes place, heard a .
Oedipus Rex was one of three plays that Sophocles, a Greek dramatist, penned on the Oedipus myth. It was the second one he wrote in B.C.E., but is the first in the sequence of events.
The plot of Sophocles’ great tragedy Oedipus the King (sometimes known as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus Tyrannos) has long been admired. In his Poetics, Aristotle held it up as the exemplary Greek tragedy.