Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 2

OEDIPUS REX - Sophocles EXPLANATION

At a feast, a drunken man maundering his cups These are the very first words spoken by blind Tiresias before Oedipus in which he
Cries out that I am not my father's son! confesses that he must not have come to Oedipus' palace when he knew that the
I contained myself that night, though I felt anger disclosure of the secret concerning Oedipus' parentage would shatter the whole
And a sinking heart. The next day I visited palace. When this blind seer entered the palace, Oedipus was happy to notice that
My father and mother, and questioned them. They stormed, his visitor was a prophet who knew the secrets of heaven and earth and could as
Calling it all the slanderous rant of a fool; such tell him who the murderer was. He told the Tiresias that Apollo had sent back
And this relieved me. his messenger with the word that the catastrophe of pestilence would not be lifted
At a feast, .......... this relieved me. from Thebes until and unless the identity of those who murdered Laius was
REFERENCE established clearly and unless they were killed or banished. Oedipus then
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex requested Tiresias to use bird-flight or any other sleight of hand to purify Thebes
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles from the devastating contagion. Tiresias' reply in these lines shows that he knew
CONTEXT the secret of the murder but he realized it as well as that his disclosure of truth
(i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines 251-257) would prove ruinous than the plague infecting Thebes.
(ii) Content:
Thebes is struck by a plague and the oracle of Apollo says the sickness is the result “I thought it wrong, my children, to hear the truth from others, messengers.
of injustice: the old king's murderer still walks free. The blind seer Tiresias tells Here I am myself—you all know me, the world knows my fame: I am
Oedipus that he is the murderer and is living incestuously. Jocasta says an oracle Oedipus”
said her husband, the old king, would be killed by his child, but that never REFERENCE
happened since they abandoned the baby and her husband was killed by robbers. (i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
Oedipus begins to suspect that he was the abandoned baby. A messenger and a (ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
servant confirm the tale. Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus stabs out his own eyes. CONTEXT
EXPLANATION (i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines Lines 6-9)
In these lines Oedipus is conversing with his wife, Jocasta, and telling her a strange Oedipus addresses the people of Thebes in this opening passage, which right away
event of his youth in Corinth. He tells her that Polybos of Corinth is his father and sets up the paradigm of dramatic irony Sophocles employs throughout the work.
his mother, Merope, is a Dorian. He was brought up to be the chief of Corinth. But a What makes these particular lines ironic is that Oedipus is known not only to the
strange event turned the tables. A drunken man at a public feast proclaimed that people of Thebes for defeating the Sphinx, but by the actual theater audience
he was not his father's biological son; he is an adaptation. He got furious at his because of his terrible fate, which had long been known through the retelling of
maundering. However, he suppressed his anger that night though with a sinking myths. Also, it is through messengers that Oedipus eventually pieces together the
heart. The very next day he went to his parents and questioned about the drunken puzzle of his life, leading him to his ghastly revelations—the truth—of his life.
man's allegations. They were offended, and said it was a foolish allegation. He was
no longer feeling distressed or anxious; he was reassured by their words. However, “I curse myself as well…if by any chance he proves to be an intimate of our
he was not fully satisfied. In short, this particular event is the main cause that house”
Oedipus left Corinth. REFERENCE
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
O holy majesty of heavenly powers! (ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
My I never see that day! Never! CONTEXT
Rather let me vanish from the race of men (i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines 284-285)
Than know the abomination destined me! Oedipus says these lines while pronouncing a curse on the murderer of Laius. He
O holy majesty ......... abomination destined me! hasn't yet realized he is the murder and is thus cursing himself—a curse that will
REFERENCE later be carried out. This decree of punishment is ironic because he is both judge
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex and criminal.
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
CONTEXT
“This day will bring your birth and your destruction”
(i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines 304-307)
REFERENCE
(ii) Content:
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
Thebes is struck by a plague and the oracle of Apollo says the sickness is the result
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
of injustice: the old king's murderer still walks free. The blind seer Tiresias tells
CONTEXT
Oedipus that he is the murderer and is living incestuously. Jocasta says an oracle
(i) Occurrence: (Line 499)
said her husband, the old king, would be killed by his child, but that never
Spoken by Tiresias to Oedipus, this line acts as a riddle to Oedipus, a master at
happened since they abandoned the baby and her husband was killed by robbers.
solving riddles, except he has no patience for this one. Tiresias provokes Oedipus
Oedipus begins to suspect that he was the abandoned baby. A messenger and a
by challenging his ability to solve riddles. This line also foreshadows the origins of
servant confirm the tale. Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus stabs out his own eyes.
Oedipus, the death of his wife, the loss of his sight, and the decree he pronounced
EXPLANATION on Laius's murderer being carried out upon Oedipus himself. Tiresias is directly
In these lines Oedipus is praying to holy God to save him from seeing the day when referring to Oedipus's peripeteia, or reversal of circumstances.
he will be declared the murderer of his father and the husband of his mother. He
wishes to vanish from the midst of human beings before such an abomination
devolves on his shoulders. He has just told his wife Jocasta when he passed Phokis, “Pride breeds the tyrant violent pride, gorging, crammed to bursting with
a place where the Theban road bifurcates into Delphi road and Daulia road, he all that is overripe and rich with ruin—clawing up to the heights, headlong
came across a herald and a royal chariot whose driver when ordered by his lord to pride crashes down the abyss—sheer doom!”
force him off the road leaned out towards him to beat him but he himself hit him REFERENCE
with his stick. The old man sitting in the chariot could not tolerate it and flogged (i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
him at his head. In exasperation, he pulled the old man down from the chariot and (ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
killed him on the spot. Now if the old man was his father, then he unknowingly CONTEXT
perpetrated parricide. In that case, he is the man hated most by the gods. So (i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines 284-285)
Oedipus fears that this cruel fate has created him for all his misfortunes emerging This commentary on the effects of pride occurs when Oedipus is quickly finding out
him from unintentional parricide and incest. If his fate is cruel, none would deny more details about his two edged curse, and does not cease trying to find the truth,
the savagery of gods. To remove all these fears, Oedipus is in these lines praying to despite pleas from Jocasta. The sentiment of pride being Oedipus’s downfall is one
God to keep him safe from such misfortune. that is repeated throughout the play, with Tiresias being the first to mention it.
Oedipus is a proud man, he is praised as the King of Thebes and the defeater of the
How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be Sphinx, but it is his pride, his own belief that he is a good man who is favored by
When there's no help in truth! I knew this well. the gods, that leads him to unravel this very belief. In his attempt to find the
But did not act on it! Else I should not have come. historical evidence to prove he is favored by the gods, he only proves to himself
REFERENCE and those around him that he suffers from a cruel fate.
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
“I count myself the son of Chance, the great goddess, giver of all good
CONTEXT things—I'll never see myself disgraced”
(i) Occurrence: Scene I (Lines 101-103) REFERENCE
(ii) Content:
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
Thebes is struck by a plague and the oracle of Apollo says the sickness is the result
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
of injustice: the old king's murderer still walks free. The blind seer Tiresias tells
CONTEXT
Oedipus that he is the murderer and is living incestuously. Jocasta says an oracle (i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines 1188-1190)
said her husband, the old king, would be killed by his child, but that never
These lines are spoken by Oedipus before he is aware that the prophecy he tried
happened since they abandoned the baby and her husband was killed by robbers. avoid has come true. However, this quote is just as true at the end of the play,
Oedipus begins to suspect that he was the abandoned baby. A messenger and a
where Oedipus knows and accepts his horrible fate. In Greek mythology, Fortune
servant confirm the tale. Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus stabs out his own eyes.
(Chance) is the goddess of fate and she is depicted as veiled, as to be unbiased of
1
those to whom she was distributing good or bad luck. In the situation in which he Take such things for shadows, nothing at all— Live, Oedipus, as if there’s
says this line, Oedipus is dealing with the newfound fact that the people who raised no tomorrow!
him were not his parents. He thinks that because his patronage is unknown, that REFERENCE
Fortune must be his mother, since he has been gifted with greatness. At the end of (i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
the play, the irony is that Oedipus is still greatly under the guidance of Fortune, but (ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
rather than favoring him, it destroys him. CONTEXT
(i) Occurrence: (Oedipus the King, 1068–1078)
Explanation:
“What good were eyes to me? Nothing I could see could bring me joy”
REFERENCE The audience, familiar with the Oedipus story, almost does not want to listen to
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex these self-assured lines, spoken by Jocasta, wherein she treats incest with a
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles startling lightness that will come back to haunt her. What makes these lines tragic
CONTEXT is that Jocasta has no reason to know that what she says is foolish, ironic, or,
(i) Occurrence: Scene II (Lines 1471-1472) simply, wrong. The audience’s sense of the work of “fate” in this play has almost
Oedipus speaks these lines in response to a senator’s questioning as to why he entirely to do with the fact that the Oedipus story was an ancient myth even in
gouged out his own eyes. He believes it is better to no longer see the things and fifth-century b.c. Athens. The audience’s position is thus most like that of Tiresias—
people around him. This is a testament to Oedipus’s character that he is willing to full of the knowledge that continues to bring it, and others, pain.
accept a harsh, self-administered punishment, and accept it with all the grace he At the same time, it is important to note that at least part of the irony of the
can muster. At this point in the play, Oedipus sees no alternative to blind exile and passage does depend on the play, and the audience, faulting Jocasta for her
speaks calmly in lyric form. blindness. Her claim that “chance rules our lives” and that Oedipus should live “as if
there’s no tomorrow” seems to fly in the face of the beliefs of more or less
everyone in the play, including Jocasta herself. Oedipus would not have sent Creon
My own flesh and blood—dear sister, dear Ismene, how many griefs our to the oracle if he believed events were determined randomly. Nor would he have
father Oedipus handed down! Do you know one, I ask you, one grief that
fled Corinth after hearing the prophecy of the oracle that he would kill his mother
Zeus will not perfect for the two of us while we still live and breathe? There’s
and sleep with his father; nor would Jocasta have bound her baby’s ankles and
nothing, no pain—our lives are pain—no private shame, no public disgrace,
abandoned him in the mountains. Again and again this play, and the other Theban
nothing I haven’t seen in your grief and mine.
plays, returns to the fact that prophecies do come true and that the words of the
gods must be obeyed. What we see in Jocasta is a willingness to believe oracles
REFERENCE
only as it suits her: the oracle prophesied that her son would kill Laius and so she
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
abandoned her son in the mountains; when Laius was not, as she thinks, killed by
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
his son, she claims to find the words of the oracle worthless. Now she sees Oedipus
CONTEXT
heading for some potentially horrible revelation and seeks to curb his fear by
(i) Occurrence:(Antigone, 1–8)
claiming that everything a person does is random.
Explanation:
Antigone’s first words in Antigone, “My own flesh and blood,” vividly emphasize
People of Thebes, my countrymen, look on Oedipus. He solved the famous
the play’s concern with familial relationships. Antigone is a play about the legacy of
riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power. Who
incest and about a sister’s love for her brother. Flesh and blood have been destined
could behold his greatness without envy? Now what a black sea of terror has
to couple unnaturally—in sex, violence, or both—since Oedipus’s rash and
overwhelmed him. Now as we keep our watch and wait the final day, count
unwitting slaying of his father. Antigone says that griefs are “handed down” in
no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.
Oedipus’s family, implicitly comparing grief to a family heirloom.
In her first speech, Antigone seems a dangerous woman, well on her way to going
REFERENCE
over the edge. She knows she has nothing to lose, telling Ismene, “Do you know
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
one, I ask you, one grief / that Zeus will not perfect for the two of us / while we still
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
live and breathe?” Before we even have time to imagine what the next grief might
CONTEXT
be, Antigone reveals it: Creon will not allow her brother Polynices to be buried. (i) Occurrence: (Oedipus the King, 1678–1684)
Ismene, on the other hand, like the audience, is one step behind. From the outset,
Antigone is the only one who sees what is really going on, the only one willing to
Explanation:
speak up and point out the truth. These words, spoken by the Chorus, form the conclusion of Oedipus the King. That
Oedipus “solved the famous riddle [of the Sphinx] with his brilliance” is an
Anarchy—show me a greater crime in all the earth! She, she destroys cities, indisputable fact, as is the claim that he “rose to power,” to an enviable greatness.
rips up houses, breaks the ranks of spearmen into headlong rout. But the In underscoring these facts, the Chorus seems to suggest a causal link between
ones who last it out, the great mass of them owe their lives to discipline. Oedipus’s rise and his fall—that is, Oedipus fell because he rose too high, because
Therefore we must defend the men who live by law, never let some woman in his pride he inspired others to “envy.” But the causal relationship is never
triumph over us. Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a actually established, and ultimately all the Chorus demonstrates is a progression of
man—never be rated inferior to a woman, never. time: “he rose to power, a man beyond all power. / . . . / Now what a black sea of
terror has overwhelmed him.” These lines have a ring of hollow and terrifying truth
REFERENCE to them, because the comfort an audience expects in a moral is absent (in essence,
(i) Drama: Oedipus Rex they say “Oedipus fell for this reason; now you know how not to fall”).
(ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
CONTEXT
(i) Occurrence:(Antigone, 751–761) Stop, my children, weep no more. Here where the dark forces store up
Explanation: kindness both for living and the dead, there is no room for grieving here—it
might bring down the anger of the gods.
This is one of Creon’s speeches to the Chorus. The word “anarchy” (in Greek, REFERENCE
anarchia) literally means “without a leader.” The Greek word is feminine and can (i) Drama: Oedipus Rex
be represented by a feminine pronoun, which is why Creon, speaking of anarchy, (ii) Dramatist: Sophocles
says, “She, she destroys cities, rips up houses. . . .” Because Creon uses the CONTEXT
feminine pronoun, he sounds as if he might be talking about Antigone, and (i) Occurrence: (Oedipus at Colonus, 1970–1974)
maintaining order is certainly connected, in his mind, with keeping women in their Explanation:
place. Creon sees anarchy as the inevitable consequence when disobedience of the
law is left unpunished. For Creon, the law, on whatever scale, must be absolute. His Theseus’s short speech from the end of Oedipus at Colonus argues that grieving
insistence on the gender of the city’s ruler (“the man”) is significant, since might not be a good thing—a sentiment unusual in the Theban plays. Sophocles’
masculine political authority is opposed to uncontrolled feminine disobedience. audience would have seen, before this speech, the most extreme consequences of
Creon sees this feminine disobedience as something that upsets the order of excessive grief: Antigone’s death, Haemon’s death, Eurydice’s death, Jocasta’s
civilization on every possible level—the political (“destroys cities”), the domestic death, Oedipus’s blinding, Oedipus’s self-exile. The rash actions of the grief-stricken
(“rips up houses”), and the military (“breaks the ranks of spearmen”). The only way possess both a horror and a sense of inevitability or rightness. Jocasta kills herself
to fight this disorder is through discipline; therefore, says Creon, “we must defend because she cannot go on living as both wife and mother to her son; Oedipus blinds
the men who live by law, [we must] never let some woman triumph over us” (758). himself in order to punish himself for his blindness to his identity; Eurydice can no
longer live as the wife of the man who killed her children. Theseus’s speech calls
attention to the fact that the violence that arises from this grieving only leads to
the perpetuation of violence.
At the end of Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone and Ismene beg to be allowed to see
Fear? What should a man fear? It’s all chance, chance rules our lives. Not a their father’s tomb, to complete the process of their grieving at that spot. But
man on earth can see a day ahead, groping through the dark. Better to live at Theseus insists on maintaining the secret as Oedipus wished. Unlike the other two
random, best we can. And as for this marriage with your mother—have no Theban plays, death is in this play a point of rest, a point at which lamentation
fear. Many a man before you, in his dreams, has shared his mother’s bed. must stop rather than begin.