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Oedipus Rex Socratic Seminar Questions

We will be using the following questions in our Socratic Seminar. The Socratic Seminar is one of your
summative assignments for this reading unit. Come up with assertions (verbal topic sentences/claims)
that directly answer the question. Write notes with evidence to support your claim. The evidence is
REQUIRED because it will help back up your assertion and it will help keep the conversation centered
around the novel. The talking points are equally important. They allow you to elaborate on the so what
of your assertion and evidence. Without this verbal matters, your conversations will seem flat and
boring. Not all of the questions will be used but you need assertions, evidence, and talking points for
each one.

1. Taking the ENTIRE play into consideration, do you think that


Oedipus is a good leader or a bad leader? Find text evidence to
support your position. Think about his character traits, his actions,
and whether or not he succeeds in curing the plague on Thebes.
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) He doesnt seem like such a


good leader through how he acts
so narcissistically

1.) I did not think it fit that


I should hear of this from
messengers but came myself,
-- I Oedipus, whom all men
call Great(6-7).

1.)
- Tells the audience on how men call him great, which
shows an example to how self-absorbed he in in
thinking what a wise/admirable person he is

2.) He also lacks leadership for


expressing his anger towards
Teiresias
3.) Oedipus tends to occasionally
abuse his power during the story
4.) Oedipus can be ignorant at
times
5.) He refuses to believe what
others say, and blames them for
the murder (stubborn)

2.) Indeed I am so angry I


shall not hold back a jot of
what I think(390-392).

2.)
- Isnt afraid to get angry at certain people, and not hold
back (Teiresias for example after he refuses to say who
the murderer is)

3.) Not twice you shall say


calumnies like this and stay
unpunished(417-418). OR
Do you imagine you can
always talk like this, and live
to laugh at it hereafter(425426).

3.)
- Stated how hes able to use his power after Teiresias
insulted him (saying how he will be punished) and also
shows how power is controlling him
- Being in a high position, he scoffs Teiresias just to let
him know that making fun of a king isnt going to get
him anywhere (wont be laughing anymore)

4.) And who has taught you


truth? Not your profession
surely(406-407). OR
I did not know then you
would talk like a fool -- or it
would have been long before
I called you(505-507).

4.)
- jokes about how Teiresiass strength
(I believe as though it shows how he thinks of Teiresias
as a weak, old man who doesnt have much_
- states how Teiresias is a fool (which also shows that he
doesnt really need him anymore, and why he called
him if it was completely useless)

5.) Had you had eyes I


would have said alone you
murdered him(395-396).

5.)
- If Teiresias had eyes, then Oedipus wouldve blamed
him (yet once Teiresias states that Oedipus is the
murderer, he says, Not twice you shall say calumnies
like this and stay unpunished(417-418). Hes basically
not pondering what Teiresias just revealed
- Accuses Creon of the murder, blatantly stating how he
was trying to take his position, and play a plot against
him.

**Also criticized Creon to


being the murderer too

2. Do you believe that Creon will be a better leader than Oedipus?


Why or why not? Find text evidence to support your claim.
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) Creon would be a better leader


because he spared Oedipuss
daughter
2.) Creon has qualities as a leader
because he advised Oedipus to
seek the oracle before going to the
mountains
3.) Creon is informed about
Oedipuss prophecy and accepts
the truth.
4.) He has more self control and
and reasoning
5.) Creon treats others equally

1.) Do not allow them


wander like beggars, poor
and husbandless.They are of
your own blood.And do not
make them equal with myself
in wretchedness for you can
see them now
so young, so utterly alone,
save you only.(1693-1698
2.) That you shall send me
out to live away from
Thebes.That gift you must
ask of the God.( 1711-1713)
3.) At the beginning of the
play Apollo tells Creon that
Thebes will be saved from
the plague only when the
murderer of Laius is found
and expelled. (Introduction to
Oedipus the king 18-20)
4.)For the rest,
if you discover that I laid any
plot together with the seer,
kill me, I say,not only by
your vote but by my own.But
do not charge me on obscure
opinion without some proof
to back it.(705-710)

1.) Creon took pity on Oedipus and did the right thing
for taking care of his daughters while their own father
was ruined.
2.) Since Oedipus already had his fate set out before
him by a prophecy.Creon wants to be precautious and
decides to let Oedipus seek the oracle once more before
returning to the mountain.
3.) Creon was also tampered with the gods and receives
information about the fate of king Laiuss killer and
with that he able to grasp the truth unlike Oedipus who
could not face the reality of who he really was.
4.) Creon was also admitted into killing king Laius so
he approaches Oedipus and that he wasnt conspiring
with a seer. Shows how Creon is able to come up with a
compromise and order of that he was to be killed if he
was the culprit.
5.) If Creon was king he wouldnt want to rule over
others with fear instead everyone would be treated with
a fair amount of dignity and respect so others would
follow him. He isnt power hungry to rule Thebes and
only wants to be treated on the same level as Oedipus.

5) Not if you will reflect on it


as I do. Consider, first, if you
think anyone would choose
to rule and fear rather than
rule and sleep untroubled by
a feat if power were equal in
both cases. I, at least,I was
not born with such a frantic
yearning to be a kingbut to
do what kings do.( 680-686)

3. Who is truly responsible for the plays tragic conclusion? Why?


Find text evidence to support your position.
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) Oedipus is responsible for his


will to save Thebes

1.) I sent Menoeceus son,


Creon, Jocastas brother, to
Apollo, to his Pythian
temple, that he might learn
there by what act or word I
could save this city(78-82)

1.)
- Due to him wanting to save Thebes, he sends Creon to
find out how to stop the curse
(It acts as a beginning to what is to come for the tragic
ending; starting point)

2.) Doesnt listen to what Teiresias


is trying to tell him
3.) His curiosity of finding who
the murderer is a starting point to
making the situation worse

2.) All of you here know


nothing. I will not bring to
light of day my troubles,

2.)
There were several times Teiresias tells Oedipus that he
shouldnt reveal the prophecy for it would only cause
pain...

4.) He made it even worse by


gouging his eyes out after seeing
Jocastas dead body (more drama)
5.) Begs Creon to fulfill what
should be done
I see

mine -- rather than call them


yours(365-367) YET
What do you mean? You
know something but refuse to
speak. Would you betray us
and destroy the city(368370)?

- Teiresias then suggests that he shouldnt reveal the


prophecy for it would affect both of them
(Oedipus doesnt comprehend to what he suggests,
meaning that he didnt put it to full thought
- Hes being too curious about who the murderer is, or
just too focused on saving Thebes

3.) After asking Jocasta a few


questionsO God, I think I
have called curses upon
myself in ignorance(862863).

3.)
- Through the stages of the plot, this is where Oedipus
begins to realize what is happening
(It ties in with what he did in the past, similar to how
King Laius was murdered)
- His curiosity drove him to this point

4.) He tore the brooches -the gold chased brooches


fastening her robe -- away
from her and lifting them up
high dashed them on his own
eyeballs, shrieking out such
things as[...](1455-1459).

4.)
Gouging his eyes
- Oedipus made the situation worse (or more dramatical)
by blinding himself
- makes the plot more tragic and ironic
(stated how Teiresias was blind not physically, and
guess what? Now Oedipus is blind)

5.) Drive me from here


with all the speed you can to
where I may not hear a
human voice(1615-1617).

5.) After all, he is the lands pollution


- Instead of begging Creon to stay, hes so full of
emotion of what occurred that he begs his brother-inlaw to drive him out (more tragic)
- ALSO as he also begs Creon to keep his daughters
safe

4. Was the fall of Oedipus a result of FATE or a result of Oedipus


own FREE WILL?
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.)It was the fates that conspired


against Oedipus which led him to
his demise.

1.)By banishing a man, or


expiation of blood by blood,
since it is murder guilt which
holds our city in this
destroying storm.(118-120)

1.) The fall of Oedipus resulted of his fate because no


matter what he decided or did could not change the
path he was destined for.

2,)The gods were the result of his


Fate.
3.)The blind prophet had
knowledge of Oedipus fate.
4.)Oedipus even sought out the
oracle of delphi to learn more
about himself
5.) There was prophecy written
out before that his parents were
aware of

2.) In my banishment not


even see my kindred not set
foot in my own country,
or otherwise my fate was to
be yoked in marriage with
my mother and kill my
father,Polybus who begot me
and had reared me.
Would not one rightly judge
and say that on me
these things were sent by
some malignant God?(958964)

2. Oedipus downfall was his fate because the truth


about himself was too much for him to handle which
brought him to shame and misery amongst himself.
3.) It must have been fate because Oedipus received a
prophecy that proclaimed to be about him in which
Oedipus felt ashamed for what he had done because of
his wretched fate
4.) Oedipuss own curiosity of his birthright brought
him to the Pythion temple where he was tolled about his
prophecy but Oedipus tried to escape his fate by fleeing
from corinth but no matter what he did he still
portrayed the role he was destined to play from the
beggining
5. Even before him, Oedipuss parents were given the

3.) He shall be proved father


and brother both
to his own children in his
own house; to her that gave
him birth, a son and husband
both;a fellow sower in his
fathers bed.( 35-538)

same prophecy he have received which resulted in


Oedipuss doom because his fate would not be tampered
until his prophecy was fulfilled.

4.)And I went at last


to Pytho, though my
parents did not know.
But Phoebus sent me home
again unhonored n what I
came to learn, but he foretold
other and desperate horrors
to befall me,(917-921)
5.) There was an oracle once
that came to Laius,
I will not say that it was
Phoebus own,but it was from
his servants and it told him
that it was fate that he should
die a victim
at the hands of his own son, a
son to be born of Laius and
me. ( 817-822)

5. Discuss Oedipuss understanding of his own destiny. How does


this change throughout the course of this play? Does this affect his
fate or free will?
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) Oedipus doesnt really


understand his destiny in the
beginning, which also starts
affecting his free will

1.) Yes, lead him off. SO


long as you are here, youll
be a stumbling block and a
vexation; once gone, you will
not trouble me again(518520).

1.)
Occurs after leading Teiresias off
- Didnt bother understanding what Teiresias was trying
to tell him, thinking that all he was talking was dark
riddles, or nonsense
- Changes as Jocasta, The Messengers, and the
Herdsman reveal facts about both Laius and Oedipus - - Because he made Teiresias leave, it makes it harder to
find out who the murderer is because of his free will to
kick the blind prophet out

2.) Jocasta reveals a major detail


on how Laius was killed, which
ties in with one of Oedipuss past
experiences
3.) When Teiresias tells Oedipus
the truth, angering him in the
process
4.) The discovery of Polybus and
his wife not being Oedipuss
parents

2.) I have a deadly fear that


the old seer had eyes. Youll
show me more if you can tell
me one more thing(866868).
3.) Is it endurable that I
should hear such words from
him? Go and a curse go with
you! Quick, home with you!

2.)
- When Jocasta reveals a critical detail that ties in with
Oedipuss past, it serves as a spark of reminder
(He begins to remember an incident of him murdering a
bunch of men, similar to how Creon told the story on
how Laius was murdered

5.) Near the ending, or the


aftermath of him gouging his eyes
out

Out of my house at
once(502-504)!

- Hes getting to the point of the realization, allowing


his free will of slowly unraveling the truth to continue

4.) How is that, if they are


father and mother and I their
son(1145-1146). AND
Because Polybus was no
kin to you in blood(11471148).

3.)
Also occurs somewhere in the beginning
- After Teiresias tells Oedipus the so-called prophecy,
Oedipus is filled with rage (Hes upset on how the blind
prophet would refuse to contribute, and betray his own
city) yet, Teiresias will be right...
- Because of these emotions, he still doesnt understand
whats going on, eventually kicking him out

5.) Darkness! Horror of


darkness enfolding, resistless
unspeakable visitant sped by
an ill wind in haste! madness
and stabbing pain and
memory of evil deeds I have
done(1501-1506).

4.)
It turns out Polybus is not Oedipuss father
- Puts Oedipus back into being a suspect as the
Herdsman reveals what actually happened to Oedipus as
a youngling (makes prophecy more clear)
- Affects his free will as he asks for more information
on how he wasnt their son, and eventually wanting the
Herdsman who gave him to the Messenger for
questioning
5.)
- He becomes just as blind in the mind, worse than
Teiresias who sees all things without sight (this is where
he also realizes his destiny)
- affects his free will as he stabbed his eyes, and told
Creon that he be banished from Thebes

6. Do some characters other than Oedipus seem to control their fate


more than others? If so, how do they do it? What do they
understand that Oedipus may or may not?
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) Teiresias understood Oedipuss


fate which he knew would corrupt
him if he sought the truth

1.) Do you know who your


parents are? Unknowing
you are an enemy to kith and
kin in death, beneath the
earth, and in this life.(484488)

1.) Teiresias was able to control his fate because he


knew when to avoid telling the truth to Oedipus so that
he could prevent himself from harm. He understood that
Oedipuss fate and that he would be miserable in the
end

2. Jocasta controlled her fate as of


when she took her life
3.)Creon somewhat knew that
Oedipus was the one who killed
king Laius
4.) The shepherd had knowledge
of who Oedipus true identity
5.) The messenger was also aware
of the fact of what he could not
comprehend

2.)I beg youdo not hunt


this outI beg you,if you
have any care for your own
life.(1207- 1211) By her
own hand. The worst
of what was done. ( 14231424)
3.) You know yourself
whether he said this, but I
demand that I should hear as
much from you as you from
me.Then hear, Ill not be
proved a murderer. Well,
then. Youre married to my
sister.(661- 674)
4. The child was called his
child; but she within, your

2. Jocasta was able to control her fate because she


could have died alongside Oedipus but instead she
made her own decision to take her own life. She
understood that she married her son and bore him his
children.
3. Creon understood that the killer of Laius would be
banished and that the son was to kill his father. Oedipus
kept on questioning him which led him to seek out the
clues he wanted from Jocosta which led him believe that
Oedipus is the murderer
4.) The shepherd controlled his fate by giving Oedipus
to another shepherd instead of just leaving him on the
mountain. But the shepherd did know of Oedipuss true
birthright
5. ) The messenger knew that Oedipus was not the child
of polybus and that he came from a gift of a shepherd
instead.

wife would tell you best how


all this was. (1342-1344)
5.) Because Polybus was
no kin to you in blood.(1147)

7. Sophocles attempts to convey a deeper message about ones


responsibility towards justice. Evaluate Oedipus as a character: do
you think he acts responsibly throughout the play? In your
response, remember to reflect on hubris, ambition, and his ability to
admit fault.
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) He did show responsibility to


how throughout the majority of
the story, he wanted to find out
who the murderer was.

1.) And justly you will see


in me an ally, a champion of
my country and the God. For
when I drive pollution from
the land I will not serve a
distant friends
advantage(164-167).

1.)
Hubris: Calls himself an ally/champion among the
people who will save them from the pollution
Ambition: Wants to serve as a close friend, and drive the
pollution away
Admit Fault: He doesnt exactly admit fault, but when
he says justly, it gives us a clue to how hes going to
be the one responsible for this whole action

2.) Through his act of justice,


accuses Creon of the murder
3.) Asks witnesses of certain
events which all tie to Laiuss
death (ex. Jocasta)
4.) Oedipus asks for Teiresiass
help
5.) Blames and repents about
himself when apprehending what
he has done

2.) Youre quick to speak,


but I am slow to grasp you
for I have found you
dangerous, --and my
foe(628-630).
3.) How was his company?
Had he few with him when
he went this journey, or many
servants, as would suit a
prince(872-874).
4.) [...]our freedom from
this disease would only come
when we should learn the
names of those who killed
King Laius, and kill them or
expel them from our
country(335-338).
5.) Then I would not have
come to kill my father and
marry my mother infamously.
Now I am godless and child
of impurity, begtter in the
same seed that created my
wretched self(1539-1543).

2.)
Hubris: Quickly says that Creon is his foe
Ambition: His new suspect, Creon, which would lead
him to prove him guilty, and have no trust for him
Admit Fault: He admits to being slow to finally realize
that Creon was the murderer
3.)
Hubris: Not much Hubris despite comparing servants to
what a prince would have
Ambition: Willing to find out more information about
Laiuss men to puzzle the confusion
Admit Fault: He hasnt shown admitting fault, yet thats
just around the corner
4.)
Hubris: A bit of hubris earlier as he also mentioned to
save himself as well, yet he also mentions to kill
Ambition: Asks Teiresias to help them find out whos
been causing the curse
Admit Fault: Not much to admitting fault
5.)
Hubris: Repeatedly stating how hes the murderer,
pulling himself down more and more
Ambition: Hes already accomplished it (to find out the
murderer) and now look at his behavior
Admit Fault: Lots of it right here. He admits to now
fulfilling the prophecy, and essentially calls himself an
unworthy, messed up man

8. As a result of Oedipuss inability to see, he gouges out his eyes.


Why does he do this? Use your knowledge about Greek culture and
Greek tragedy, as well as textual evidence, to compose your answer.
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) Oedipus was unable to save


Jocasta

1.) there, we saw his wife


hanging, the twisted rope
around her neck.When he
saw her, he cried out
fearfully and cut the dangling
noose. Then as she lay,poor
woman, on the ground, what
happened after.
(1450-1454)

1. Oedipus takes away his own sight because he was


ashamed that he was not able to save her because he
brought her misery and shame and which he took in
spite of himself

2.)He couldnt accept the truth of


that he was the one in the
prophecy and he fulfilled it
3.)He was searching for the killer
of king Laius and all along it was
him the entire time
4.) He married his own mother
and the same one that even gave
him his children
5.) He was ashamed by the fact
that he committed so many crimes
that were imoral

2.) to kill my father


and marry my mother
infamously.Now I am godless
and child of impurity,
begetter in the same seed
that created my wretched
self. (1540- 1544)
3.) And I pollute the bed of
him I killed by the hands that
killed him. ( 955-956)

2.) Many times oedipus was told that he should not


continue to follow the killer of king Laius but he ignored
their pleas and for that he met his doom
3.) All Oedipus wanted was to get to get rid of the killer
to free Thebes of its curse but he was blinded by the
clues, the sighns that were given to him but only to the
end did he finally realised that the culprit was him
4.) Oedipus did shameful acts that he was unaware of
and because his wrongdoings he only felt right to
receive a punishment of his own .
5.) He decided to blind himself because he was in fear
to face the crimes he had committed because of a single
prophecy that brought him to despair and pity himself
for all that he has done.

4.) marriage, marriage!


you bred me and again when
you had bred children of your
child and showed to men
brides, wives and mothers
and the foulest deeds that
can be in this world of ours. (
1580-1584)
5.) Now I am godless and
child of impurity,begetter in
the same seed that created
my wretched self.If there is
any ill worse than ill,that is
the lot of Oedipus.
(1542- 1544)

9. Reread the conversation Oedipus has with Teiresias, the blind seer. Evaluate the

importance of this conversation. What can you determine about Oedipuss character based
on the interaction he has with Teiresias?
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

1.) Oedipus is prideful in certain


things, and expresses his
accomplishments
2.) He overuses power
3.) Very stubborn, and doesnt
bother to listen at times
4.) Makes a mockery of those that
defy his beliefs
5.) Loyal/Protective

1.) He talks about the sphinx


But I came, Oedipus, who
knew nothing, and I stopped
her. I solved the riddle by my
own wit alone(460-462).

1.)
- expresses how HE was the one that saved Thebes,
compared to what Teiresias did
- blantaly states that he knew nothing (exaggerated),
and alone he solved the riddle (shows his pride)

2.) Not twice you shall say


calumnies like this and stay
unpunished(417-418) OR
How shamelessly you
started up this taunt! How do
you think you will
escape(401-402).

2.)
- tends to overuse his power by stating to Teiresias that
he wont go unpunished for what he said
- reveals a bit on how easily offensive he gets due to
what position he is in (ties in with a bit of pride)

3.) Did you not understand


before or would you provoke
me into speaking(410-412)?
AND I did not grasp
it(413).
4.) It has but not for you; it
has no strength for you
because you are blind in mind
and ears as well as in your
eyes(428-430).
5.) What do you mean? You
know of something but refuse
to speak. Would you betray us
and destroy the city(368370).

3.)
- due to how stubborn he is, he isnt able to understand
what Teiresias was stating
- affects him in a way which makes him not get the
prophecy earlier, and extends the tragedy
4.)
- Teiresias refuses to give the prophecy, causing the two
to have a boiled conversation
- the context shows Oedipus essentially saying how the
blind prophet was not only blind in the eyes
- lacks the character of being a leader, and makes his
tragic ending worse for later, hell realize what hes
done
5.)
- surprised and shocked to what Teiresias stated
(therefore, having him to use strong words such as
betray and destroy)
- this then shows how defensive he is to Thebes

10. Write your own open ended question for Socratic Seminar. This should not be
something everyone will agree on and should be connected to the play or the
themes/ideas the play brings up. It should not be the same as your peers, so think
of this on your OWN.
Original Question: From what we have read, what can we predict will happen to Creon OR Oedipus?
Assertion

Evidence

Talking Points/Matters

**Information specifically for


Creon

1.) Do not seek to be master in


everything, for the things you
mastered did not follow you
throughout your life(17211723).

1.)
- quote shows how Creon understands how you cant
always be a leader in everything
(especially through his experience with Oedipus)
- it also expresses that Creon wont follow the same
path/personality Oedipus did, ensuring Thebes to be
a thriving city

1.) Hell become a leader that


differs from Oedipuss personality
2.) Creon will keep his promise in
caring for Oedipuss daughters,
and having the city in peace

2.) Youre right: it was I gave


you this because I knew from old
days how you loved them as I
see now(1661-1662).

2.)
- Creon knew how much Oedipus loved his two

3.) Be sturdier in his position


(more mature, confident, etc.)
**what a king should be

3.) Oedipus, Ive come not so


that I might laugh at you nor
taunt you with evil of the
past(1599-1601).

daughters, therefore, ensuring that hell keep them


safe
- Expresses his compassion/pity, even when Oedipus
treated him so badly during his search for the truth
- mustve been difficult to forgive for Creon
couldve just tossed Oedipuss daughters aside, yet
he didnt
3.)
- After seeing Oedipus in such a bad state, Creon
did not make fun of him
(he knew what occurred was evil, yet its the past)
- Also, Creon mustve understand that Oedipus
realizes what hes done, and regrets about it
(basically, he learned his lesson, and thats what
Creon and Teiresias wanted him to experience)
**you cant always be right...