Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
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Oedipus Rex by SophoclesIntroducing the PlayLiterary Focus: Dramatic IronyFeature Menu
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesKing Polybus Rescuing Oedipus
Oedipus Rex is considered one of the worlds greatest tragedies.Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesA tragedy is a serious drama featuring a hero or main character, often of noble birth, who strives to achieve something and is ultimately defeated. Let them all hear it. It is for them I suffer, more than for myself.
The heros downfall is often due to an inborn character flaw or weaknessthe tragic flaw. After exposing the rankness of my own guilt, how could I look men frankly in the eyes?Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesDespite defeat or even death, the tragic hero is ennobled by new self-knowledge and wisdom. Ah dearest ones, I had neither sight nor knowledge then . . .
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesThe structure of most Greek tragedies presents a tight, formal arrangement of parts, and Oedipus Rex maintains this tight dramatic framework. PrologueParadosDialogueChoral odesExodos
PrologueThe prologue is the opening scene of the play. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
ParadosThe parados is the first of the Choruss lyric songs, or choral odes. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
DialogueDialogue is the conversation of the plays characters. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Choral odesThe Choruss lyric songs are choral odes. In Oedipus Rex, the Choruswhich serves simply as a nameless onlooker and commentator in other Greek tragediesis transformed by Sophocles into a collective actor within the drama itself.Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
ExodosThe exodos is the concluding scene of a play.Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Oedipus Rex is one of Sophocles three Theban playsthree tragedies about King Oedipus of Thebes and his family. AntigoneOedipus RexOedipus at ColonusOedipus Rex by Sophocles
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesOedipus is the ill-fated king of Thebes whose mysterious past wreaks havoc on allhis family, his kingdom, and Oedipus himself. Before the play begins, Oedipus has won the right to marry Queen Jocasta by solving a riddle posed by the Sphinx.
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesQueen Jocastas husband, King Laius, had been killed on the road by an unknown traveler. This unsolved slaying brings a plague on Thebes. King Oedipus vows to find Laiuss killer and bring him to justice.
Oedipus Rex by SophoclesThe themes, or underlying messages, of Oedipus Rex include [End of Section]the quest for identitythe nature of innocence and guiltthe nature of moral responsibilitythe limitations of human will versus fatethe abuse of power
Dramatic irony occurs when the reader or audience knows something important that a character in a story or drama does not know. Murder of whom? Surely the god has named him?Oedipus Rex Literary Focus: Dramatic Irony
The fundamental irony in the play stems from the audiences knowledge of Oedipuss true identity, of which Oedipus is completely unaware. Oedipus Rex Literary Focus: Dramatic IronyWhat is God singing in his profound Delphi of gold and shadow?What oracle for Thebes, the sunwhipped city?
Sophocles creates variations of this central irony throughout the play, heightening the audiences pity and horror.Oedipus Rex Literary Focus: Dramatic IronyThe main characters gradually come to grips with what the audience knows from the very start of the play.
What is left unsaid is often more powerful than what is explicitly stated. Almost every line of the play contains an ambiguity or double meaning.Oedipus Rex Literary Focus: Dramatic IronyThen once more I must bring what is dark to light.This verbal irony reinforces the dramatic irony of the play as each character discovers the truth of Oedipuss identity. [End of Section]
Oedipus RexBackgroundEarly in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.), when Oedipus Rex was first produced, Athens suffered from political instability and a devastating plague. Sophocles opened his play with a situation the people of Athens could identify witha plague on the city of Thebes. According to the oracle of Apollo, the plague would continue until the murderer of King Laius was caught and punished.
Oedipus RexBackgroundThe herds are sick; children die unborn,And labor is vain. The god of plague and pyreRaids like detestable lightning through the city . . .
Oedipus Rex BackgroundCasting himself in the role of the citys savior, Oedipus vowed to find the murderer and save his people, which led him to an encounter with the past and his own darkest secrets.
Oedipus RexBackground: The CharactersThe ThebansOedipus (ED i pus)Jocasta (jo KAS tuh)The Royal FamilyAntigone (an TIG uh nee)Ismene (is MEE nee)daughters
Oedipus RexBackground: The CharactersThe ThebansOedipus (ED i pus)their sonJocasta (jo KAS tuh)Laius (LAY oos)Creon (KREE ahn)her brotherThe Royal Family
Oedipus Rex Background: The Characters[End of Section]The ThebansChoragos (koh RAY guhs)leader of the ChorusChorus of Theban EldersTeiresias (ti REE see uhs)a blind seer, or prophet
Oedipus RexQuickwriteMake the ConnectionFor the ancient Greeks the Oedipus myth was a striking example of how human fortunes can suffer unexpected, drastic reversals. Can you think of other examples of sharp reversals in literature or real life? Were the people involved responsible, or were they innocent victims? How do people explain and cope with such tragedies? Freewrite your answer.[End of Section]
Previewing the Vocabularycompunction n.: feeling of remorse or guilt. decrepit adj.: worn-out by old age.disdain n.: scorn. expedient n.: something that is useful or helpful.primal adj.: original.supplication n.: humble request.venerate v.: revere.Oedipus Rex Vocabulary
Oedipus Rex VocabularyUse a dictionary to research the origin, or etymology, of each vocabulary word. Create a chart like the one below to organize your findings. ActivityWord Language of Origin Original Wordvenerate Latin venerfrom venus, meaning to love or desire[End of Section]veneratecompunctiondecrepitdisdainexpedientprimalsupplication
Meet the Writer
Oedipus RexMeet the WriterSophocles, born around 496 B.C., was one of Greeces great tragic playwrights and won Athenss top prize for tragedy twenty-four times over six decades. Born into wealth, Sophocles lived during Athenss Golden Age of achievement and contributed 123 plays, seven of which survive today.
More about the writer.[End of Section]