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Oedipus Oedipus the King the King By By Sophocles Sophocles

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Introduction before reading Oedipus the King

TRANSCRIPT

Page 1: Oedipus intro

Oedipus Oedipus the Kingthe King

ByBy

SophoclesSophocles

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BackgroundBackground The actual title in ancient Greek is The actual title in ancient Greek is

Oedipus TyrannosOedipus Tyrannos; in Latin ; in Latin Oedipus Oedipus Rex Rex ..

““Tyrant” is the closest English Tyrant” is the closest English translation of the Greek word for “one translation of the Greek word for “one who rules without second”, usually who rules without second”, usually elected, sometimes taking power elected, sometimes taking power unconstitutionally. unconstitutionally.

Some texts use the word “king” or Some texts use the word “king” or even the Latin equivalent “even the Latin equivalent “rexrex”, but ”, but there is no mention of succession or there is no mention of succession or king or queen in the play.king or queen in the play.

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Where is Thebes?Where is Thebes?

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The Dreadful The Dreadful ProphecyProphecy

The ancient city of Thebes in Greece was The ancient city of Thebes in Greece was ruled, at one time, by Laius, son of ruled, at one time, by Laius, son of Labdacus Labdacus

Laius and his wife Jocasta were childless.Laius and his wife Jocasta were childless. Wanting children, Laius visited the shrine Wanting children, Laius visited the shrine

of the Oracle at Delphi.of the Oracle at Delphi. The oracle was the human spokesperson The oracle was the human spokesperson

of the Greek god Apollo.of the Greek god Apollo. Oracles were women who lived in Oracles were women who lived in

seclusion in sacred places.seclusion in sacred places.

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Phythian (Python) Phythian (Python) OracleOracle

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““I Got 99 I Got 99 Problems…”Problems…”

The oracle indicated to Laius and Jocasta that The oracle indicated to Laius and Jocasta that being childless was a blessing in disguise.being childless was a blessing in disguise.

Laius was warned by the oracle that any child Laius was warned by the oracle that any child born to Jocasta would become Laius’ born to Jocasta would become Laius’ murderer.murderer.

Out of fear, Laius exiled his wife without Out of fear, Laius exiled his wife without explanation.explanation.

Her vexation at such rejection spurred a plot Her vexation at such rejection spurred a plot in her mind.in her mind.

She seduced her husband through drink and She seduced her husband through drink and conceived a son.conceived a son.

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Orphaned!Orphaned! Panicked, according to one version of Panicked, according to one version of

the story, Laius forcibly removes the the story, Laius forcibly removes the baby from Jocasta’s arms, pierces the baby from Jocasta’s arms, pierces the child’s feet near the tendon and inserts child’s feet near the tendon and inserts a metal pin to bind the baby’s feet a metal pin to bind the baby’s feet together. together.

Laius carries the injured baby to Mount Laius carries the injured baby to Mount Cithaeron, between the cities of Corinth Cithaeron, between the cities of Corinth and Thebes, and leaves him with a and Thebes, and leaves him with a shepherd with instructions to abandon shepherd with instructions to abandon the baby-- to die.the baby-- to die.

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New Lease on LifeNew Lease on Life Unable to carry out the heartless Unable to carry out the heartless

command, the shepherd instead command, the shepherd instead hands the deformed child over to a hands the deformed child over to a second shepherd from Corinth.second shepherd from Corinth.

The baby, named Oedipus (swollen The baby, named Oedipus (swollen footed) by the shepherd, is safe… for footed) by the shepherd, is safe… for now.now.

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Mount CithaeronMount Cithaeron

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Corinth : Home Corinth : Home Sweet HomeSweet Home

Polybus is the king/tyrant of Corinth. Polybus is the king/tyrant of Corinth. His wife is Merope . They are His wife is Merope . They are childless.childless.

The shepherd who received baby The shepherd who received baby Oedipus on Mt. Cithaeron informs Oedipus on Mt. Cithaeron informs Polybus of the child.Polybus of the child.

Oedipus has a home.Oedipus has a home.

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Orphaned, Part IIOrphaned, Part II After 17 or 18 years, a Corinthian After 17 or 18 years, a Corinthian

youth taunts the startled Oedipus: youth taunts the startled Oedipus: “You don’t resemble either of your “You don’t resemble either of your parents” (Polybus and Merope).parents” (Polybus and Merope).

Only the Oracle at Delphi can clear up Only the Oracle at Delphi can clear up this puzzle.this puzzle.

The Oracle’s response to Oedipus: The Oracle’s response to Oedipus: ““Away from the shrine, wretch! You Away from the shrine, wretch! You will kill your father and marry your will kill your father and marry your mother!”mother!”

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The ShowdownThe Showdown Because he loves his Because he loves his

(adopted) parents so (adopted) parents so much, young Oedipus much, young Oedipus quickly departs from quickly departs from Corinth and heads in the Corinth and heads in the direction of Thebes.direction of Thebes.

On the treacherous and On the treacherous and narrow mountain road, narrow mountain road, several men, one of several men, one of them a king, in an them a king, in an oncoming chariot oncoming chariot demand the right of demand the right of way.way.

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It’s my way or the It’s my way or the highway…highway…

The king orders the young Oedipus The king orders the young Oedipus to “make way for his betters.”to “make way for his betters.”

““I know no betters except the gods I know no betters except the gods and my own parents,” replied the and my own parents,” replied the headstrong Oedipus.headstrong Oedipus.

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One thing leads to One thing leads to another…another…

The king moves to strike The king moves to strike young Oedipus with his young Oedipus with his scepter.scepter.

In a rage, Oedipus, with his In a rage, Oedipus, with his walking stick, strikes the walking stick, strikes the older king and flings him to older king and flings him to the road. the road.

Oedipus proceeds to kill all Oedipus proceeds to kill all of the men in the group of the men in the group except for one.except for one.

The older king was Laius. :OThe older king was Laius. :O

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The SphinxThe Sphinx Prior to his death at the hands of Prior to his death at the hands of

Oedipus, Laius had been on a second Oedipus, Laius had been on a second journey to the Oracle at Delphi.journey to the Oracle at Delphi.

This time, Laius was seeking advice to This time, Laius was seeking advice to end the plague of The Sphinx against end the plague of The Sphinx against Thebes.Thebes.

The Sphinx, a hideous combination of The Sphinx, a hideous combination of lion, serpent, eagle and woman, forbade lion, serpent, eagle and woman, forbade anyone from entering Thebes unless the anyone from entering Thebes unless the traveler correctly answered a riddle.traveler correctly answered a riddle.

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The Theban SphinxThe Theban Sphinx

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The Sphinx’s RiddleThe Sphinx’s Riddle Using a riddle taught to her by the Using a riddle taught to her by the

Three Muses, the Sphinx would ask Three Muses, the Sphinx would ask each traveler on the way to Thebes:each traveler on the way to Thebes:

““What being, with only What being, with only oneone voice, voice, has sometimeshas sometimes twotwo feet, feet,

sometimes sometimes threethree,, sometimessometimes fourfour, , and is weakest when it has the and is weakest when it has the

most?”most?”

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The Riddle’s AnswerThe Riddle’s Answer Oedipus, arriving in Thebes shortly after he Oedipus, arriving in Thebes shortly after he

unknowingly killed his natural father, unknowingly killed his natural father, encounters the Sphinx and the riddle and encounters the Sphinx and the riddle and the prospect of death if he answers the prospect of death if he answers incorrectly.incorrectly.

Some say he answered by pronouncing his Some say he answered by pronouncing his name, which the Sphinx misheard:name, which the Sphinx misheard:

oi dipusoi dipus (“I, man”),(“I, man”),

which just so happens to be the right answer.which just so happens to be the right answer.

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You Win?You Win? The success of young Oedipus circulated The success of young Oedipus circulated

through Thebes, a city now freed of the through Thebes, a city now freed of the terror that was once at its doorstep.terror that was once at its doorstep.

The grateful Thebans select Oedipus to The grateful Thebans select Oedipus to replace Laius, who everyone heard had replace Laius, who everyone heard had died at the hands of highwaymen, as died at the hands of highwaymen, as king/tyrant.king/tyrant.

Oedipus accepts the title and accepts Oedipus accepts the title and accepts Jocasta as his wife as well—Jocasta, the Jocasta as his wife as well—Jocasta, the former wife of Laius, the mother of…. former wife of Laius, the mother of….

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If it’s not one thing, it’s If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother…your mother…

Oedipus is proclaimed the new Oedipus is proclaimed the new king/tyrant of Thebes, and king/tyrant of Thebes, and immediately following:immediately following:

“ “A terrible plague descends A terrible plague descends on the bewildered city of Thebes;on the bewildered city of Thebes;

Animals mysteriously die;Animals mysteriously die;

Grain withers in the field;Grain withers in the field;

No live births occur.”No live births occur.”

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Here we go again…Here we go again…

The Theban The Theban elders beg elders beg Oedipus for help Oedipus for help to save their to save their city.city.

The play by The play by Sophocles Sophocles begins—now.begins—now.

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