Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos
SOME QUESTIONS to stimulate discussion:
- (1) Does OEDIPUS have a 'character flaw' ? (Aristotle, Poetics ch.12: "some great error on his part")
- (2) Does OEDIPUS suffer from HYBRIS ('arrogance' 'excessive pride' 'overconfidence in self')?
- (3) In what respects is Oedipus a 'good king'? Who thinks so? Who says so, in the play?
- (4) In what respects is Oedipus a 'good man'? What are his personal virtues?
- (5) WHY is there a plague and barrenness in Thebes? Who is suffering? How is the plague to be stopped? Who says so?
- (6) WHY did OEDIPUS kill his father? Who reveals this? When?
- (7) Is OEDIPUS legally guilty of MURDER? Does he have a valid defense?
- (8) Is OEDIPUS legally guilty of INCEST? Is there any defense?
- (9) WHY did OEDIPUS marry JOCASTA? When do we hear of this?
- (10) What does the story of the SPHINX mean for Oedipus and the Thebans?
- (11) What is the part played in this play by the god APOLLO OF DELPHI? in Oedipus' life? in the family of LABDACUS ?
- (12) What is the function in the drama of the Seer TIRESIAS? In what way is his presence onnected with Oedipus' failings as a human being and a monarch?
- (13) At what point in the drama (line #) do ALL the parts of the puzzle of Oedipus' life story become available to Oedipus? How does he react to 'full disclosure'?
- (14) WHY does Jocasta commit suicide? Why does Oedipus blind himself?
- (15) What is the REACTION in Thebes to the dramatic revelations about the squalid facts of the Royal family's sex life and murderous history?
- (16) Why does Oedipus go into EXILE? Is this 'punishment'? Or self-punishment? an admission of guilt?
- (17) Is Thebes any better for Oedipus' departure? Is Oedipus any better? Is 'Justice' served?
FOLLOW THE THEMES:
* truth vs the appearance of truth
* blindness vs vision (sometimes 'second-sight')
*curiosity vs ignorance (sometimes wilful)
* knowledge vs misunderstanding
THE ORACLE GIVEN BY DELPHI TO LAIUS KING OF THEBES:
(appears at the beginning of manuscripts of OT)
"Laius, son of Labdacus, you seek for a rich family of children.
Let a beloved son be given to you. But it is fated for you to depart the daylight at the hands of your son.
For ZEUS, son of Kronos has granted this, moved by the hateful curses of PELOPS,
Whose dear son you [LAIUS] stole away. For HE indeed prayed all of these things for you."
January 24, 2010 8:28 PM
John Paul Adams, CSUN