Oedipus the King Essay

ancient greek / oedipus / tragedy / play / aristotle / sophocles / fate

                                                     Oedipus the King

Questions to be answered in the essay:

  1. What is the idea of the ancient tragedy?
  2. What moral themes that been covered in the tragedy?
  3. Is this true that the question do exist?

The ancient Greeks are known for their skill in writing tragedies. This skill made Greeks famous all over the world. The major fame came from the skill of writing tragedies. These dramas of human life revealed the humanity a true nature of man. The tragedies also pushed the reader to ask many questions about man’s position in the universe. Along with that, the book revealed many things about the powers that govern this life. According to Bagg (1968) Greek tragedies typically “involved a final and impressive disaster due to an unforeseen or unrealized failure involving people who command respect and sympathy”. (Bagg 34)

The story often contains the idea of ironical change of fortune. In the majority of cases the story usually conveys a strong impression of waste. This feeling is always accompanied by the feeling of misery and emotional distress (Brereton 66). The major characteristics of Oedipus the King are the presence of an impressive disaster. This fact is unforeseen by the protagonist. In fact, what we see in Oedipus the King is a character of respect that is often accompanied by irony, misery and emotional distress.

The idea of moral values is one more issue that needs serious consideration. After defeating Polynices and taking the throne of Thebes, Creon is showed to command that the body of Polynices was left to rot unburied. The scene is closely concerned with the idea of “obscenity” – creating a shame for the people to see. (Antigone, 231) Creon is known to justify the treatment of Polynices. The justification comes as a result of the fact that Polynices is a traitor, hence an enemy of the state.

Oedipus the King is the tragedy that has often been translated  and re-interpreted. In my essay I will answer this question by examining the relation of this play to the "canonical" genre of tragedy. The discourse pertains to the issue of philosophy, politics and philology. The tragedy will be characterized from the point of Aristotle’s Poetics. The major focus will be put on the discussion of the tragedy. (Peri Poieticës 45)


                             Explanation of the method of criticism

The Neoclassical Tradition In the majority of the cases, it is rather difficult to jump directly from Aristotle's Poetics. My discussion of the plot and Sophocles' Oedipus the King will be reached from the side of the neoclassical perspective. It means that while emplaning the essence of the book I will point to some of the neo-classical notions. The tragedy should be approached without considering the Renaissance and the unchallenged reputation Oedipus. The above mentioned evidence implies on the fact that Greek tragedy has all the rights to be regarded as a part of the humanist tradition. The Renaissance times brought new understanding of the tradition. As a result, Oedipus was considered to be a part of the Greek tragedy. (Arnott 45)

The new understanding of the play has appeared as a result of the recognition of the play's excellence. This recognition came after the appearance of Aristotle's Poetics.

The references to Oedipus as the King can be regarded as an outstanding example of a well-structured play. The new interpretation of the play helped to derive new rules of a genre. These rules primarily came from the Sophoclean tragedy. As for Aristotle’s poetics, it also refers to a number of other plays. Many of these plays are no longer extant. The main question to a reader of Oedipus the King can be shaped in the following manner: Is it true that fate exist?

The question of fate is one of the issues that have been suggested in the paper. In fact, many of the Oedipus' actions have been shaped by a malign divinity. This information implies on the fact of wanton ingenuity that is do present in the tragedy. The idea is shaped in the following way:

Laius, the King of Thebes, has learned from an oracle that he will be killed by his own son. When his wife, Jocasta, bears a son, Laius entrusts it to one of his shepherds with orders that he kill it by exposing it with its ankles pierced and bound on Mt. Cithairon p.(3)….This even is accompanied by the serious of events that are somehow connected to the fate.



                                                  Works Cited:


Arnott, Peter Greek Scenic Conventions in the Fifth Century B.C. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1962


Aristotle nepmouyuicrîç (Peri Poieticës: Poetics). Vol. 2. Berlin, Georigium Reimerum. pp. 1447-1462. 5 vols. 1831


Sophocles. Oedipus The King. New York University Press. 2002


Bagg R., Oedipus the King. Contributors. University of Massachusetts Press. Amherst, MA. Publication 1982.


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