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  • The Oedipus Myth and Oedipus Complex




  • The Myth

    •The oracle (prophet) of Delphi told King Laius of Thebes that a son born to his wife, Queen Jocasta, would kill him. •After Jocasta gave birth to a son, Laius abandoned. Hoping that he will die. However, a shepherd rescued the child and brought him to King Polybus of Corinth. Polybus adopted the boy and named him Oedipus. •Oedipus grew up in Corinth, where he learned from the oracle that he would kill his father and marry his mother. •Believing that Polybus was his father, he tried to avoid the prophecy by fleeing Corinth. On the road to Thebes, he quarreled with a man and killed him. The stranger was King Laius.

  • The Myth

    •Near Thebes, Oedipus encountered a monster called the Sphinx. She had a woman's head, a lion's body, and bird's wings. The Sphinx killed everyone who could not solve this riddle: What has one voice and becomes four-footed, two-footed, and three-footed? •The Sphinx asked Oedipus the riddle. He answered: Man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two legs, and finally needs a cane in old age. The Sphinx suicided and Oedipus was rewarded by being made king of Thebes. He married Jocasta, the widowed queen. •Several years later, a plague struck Thebes. The oracle said it would end when the murderer of Laius had been driven from Thebes. Oedipus investigated the murder and came to realize that Laius was the man he had killed on the road to Thebes. He then discovered that Laius was his father and Jocasta his mother. •Oedipus blinded himself, and Jocasta hanged herself. Oedipus was banished from Thebes. He died at Colonus, near Athens.

  • Who are the Characters?

    •Oedipus- King of Thebes, killed Laius to claim the throne, and unknowingly married his mother.

    •Jocasta- Wife of Oedipus, formally wife of Laius.

    •Creon- Brother of Jocasta. Takes throne after Oedipus dies.

  • Who are the Characters? • Laius- King of Thebes before Oedipus;

    Oedipus’s father. Received a prophecy saying that his son would kill him. Sent Oedipus away, only to have him return later and kill him.

  • What is a Myth?

    •An “old wives tale”

    •Generally accepted belief unsubstantiated by fact.

    •Used in early stories to explain natural phenomena.

    •Normally had gods or goddesses as the main focus.

  • What is a Myth? •Heroes of cults in which we normally don’t believe.

    •Word means “word,” or “story”

    •Abstract reality, like religion or science.

  • How does Oedipus meet this Definition?

    •Oedipus was born to a king and queen.

    •Prophecy to kill his father and marry his mother fulfilled.

    •Superhuman mental powers.

    •Archetypes used.

  • How does Oedipus meet this Definition?

    •Tells an ancient story

    •Uses gods and goddesses.

    •Teaches a lesson- “Fate is Inevitable”

  • Oedipus Complex

  • What is the Complex?

    • Stage in gender identity

    •Young boy craves sexual contact with his mother.

    •Sees father as rival for mother’s affection. Son fears castration from father

    •Boy soon learns to identify with his father, defining his gender identity out of fear.

  • What is the Complex?

    •Feminine counterpart, known as Electra Complex.

    •Daughter craves sexual attention from father, and competes with mother

    •Fears losing her mother’s love, and represses desires, securing her gender identity

  • How does the Complex Relate to the Myth?

    •Oedipus unknowingly marries mother, Jocasta and kills father.

    •They have two children.

  • How does the Complex Relate to the Myth?

    •Oedipus learns that Laius was his father, and Jocasta his mother

    •Jocasta hangs herself in shame

    •Oedipus gouges his eyes out, ashamed of himself.

  • Other Interesting Information

    •Disorder called Oedipism, self harm to the eyes

    •Named after Oedipus’s eye gouging

    •Oedipus had multiple personality disorder

  • Other Interesting Information

    •Oedipus’s name means “swollen foot”, a reference to having his feet bound as an infant

    •His original name was Oedipais, meaning Child of the Sea, but this was later changed to Oedipus.

  • Works Cited

    Andreasen, Nancy C. "Oedipus complex." World Book Student. World Book, 2010. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.

    "Oedipus Rex." World Book Student. World Book, 2010. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.

    "Oedipus." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 11 July 2013.

  • Works Cited

    Kendler, Howard H. Basic Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1968. Print.

    Pictures courtesy of Google Images

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