In his Poetics, Aristotle held it up as the exemplary Greek tragedy. Oedipus the King might also be called the first detective story in Western literature. And what does a closer analysis of its plot features and themes reveal?
A tragic hero in Greek mythologyOedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family. Together, these plays make up Sophocles' three Theban plays.
Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: Laius wished to thwart a prophecy, so he sent a shepherd-servant to leave Oedipus to die on a mountainside. However, the shepherd took pity on the baby and passed him to another shepherd who gave Oedipus to King Polybus and Queen Merope to raise as their own.
Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother but, unaware of his true parentage, believed he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, so left for Thebes.
On his way he met an older man and quarrelled, and Oedipus killed the stranger. Continuing on to Thebes, he found that the king of the city Laius had been recently killed, and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx.
Oedipus answered the monster's riddle correctly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king — and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, and unbeknownst to him his mother Jocasta.
Years later, to end a plague on Thebes, Oedipus searched to find who had killed Laius, and discovered that he himself was responsible.
Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married both her own son, and her husband's murderer, hanged herself. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them. The legend of Oedipus has been retold in many versions, and was used by Sigmund Freud to name and give mythic precedent to the Oedipus complex.
Basics of the myth Variations on the legend of Oedipus are mentioned in fragments by several ancient Greek poets including HomerHesiodPindarAeschylus and Euripides. However, the most popular version of the legend comes from the set of Theban plays by Sophocles: Oedipus RexOedipus at Colonusand Antigone.
Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocastaking and queen of Thebes. Having been childless for some time, Laius consulted the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
The Oracle prophesied that any son born to Laius would kill him. In an attempt to prevent this prophecy's fulfillment, when Jocasta indeed bore a son, Laius had his ankles pierced and tethered together so that he could not crawl; Jocasta then gave the boy to a servant to abandon "expose" on the nearby mountain.
However, rather than leave the child to die of exposure, as Laius intended, the servant passed the baby on to a shepherd from Corinth and who then gave the child to another shepherd. The infant Oedipus eventually came to the house of Polybusking of Corinth and his queen, Merope, who adopted him, as they were without children of their own.
The word "oedema" British English or "edema" American English is from this same Greek word for swelling: After many years, Oedipus was told by a drunk that he was a "bastard", meaning at that time that he was not their biological son.
Oedipus confronted his parents with the news, but they denied this. Oedipus went to the same oracle in Delphi that his birth parents had consulted. The oracle informed him that he was destined to murder his father and marry his mother.
In an attempt to avoid such a fate, he decided to not return home to Corinth, but to travel to Thebes, which was closer to Delphi. On the way, Oedipus came to Davliawhere three roads crossed each other.
There he encountered a chariot driven by his birth-father, King Laius. They fought over who had the right to go first and Oedipus killed Laius when the charioteer tried to run him over. The only witness of the king's death was a slave who fled from a caravan of slaves also traveling on the road at the time.
Continuing his journey to Thebes, Oedipus encountered a Sphinxwho would stop all travelers to Thebes and ask them a riddle. If the travelers were unable to answer her correctly, they would be killed and eaten; if they were successful, they would be free to continue on their journey.
Oedipus was the first to answer the riddle correctly and, having heard Oedipus' answer, the Sphinx allowed him to carry on forward. Queen Jocasta's brother, Creonhad announced that any man who could rid the city of the Sphinx would be made king of Thebes, and given the recently widowed Queen Jocasta's hand in marriage.
This marriage of Oedipus to Jocasta fulfilled the rest of the prophecy.Oedipus the king study guide by isismay12 includes 92 questions covering vocabulary, terms and more.
Where is metaphorical sight shown in the play? He is seen as a powerful ruler and through solving the riddle of the Sphinx, Oedipus has reason to possess some pride. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex revolves around the story of Oedipus, who now is King of Thebes, searching for the murderer of the past king.
The tragedy is not so much that Oedipus is the murderer and committing incest with his mother. It is Aristotle’s definition that has led many critics and scholars to regard Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King as one of the greatest examples of tragedy and heroism.
Ultius, Inc. "Aristotle and Oedipus: Analysis of Ancient Greek Literature." Copy. Copied to clipboard. Click here for more help with MLA citations.
Ultius, Inc. ( /5(3). - Dramatic Irony in Sophocles' Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles. Sophocles knowing that his audience is aware of the outcome of the play utilizes that knowledge to create various situations in which dramatic irony play key roles.
Oedipus' insistence on solving riddles, on finding the solution to problems, and on being a good king and ridding Thebes of its plague leads him, throughout the action of the play, towards his. The work was a fresh treatment of the established subject of the meeting between Oedipus and the Sphinx on the road to Delphi, notably portrayed at Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex.
Subject matter The painting depicts Oedipus meeting the Sphinx at the crossroads .