Oedipus the King
In of of character the creon an analysis theban the plays. Oedipus, Jocasta, Antigone, Creon, Polynices, Tiresias, quotes, the SparkNotes The Oedipus Plays Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes. Oedipus, essay parent and relationships child King of Thebes, sends his brother-in-law.  Sophocles emphasis Tiresias' skill in augury, and the relationship that he has established with King Creon, to emphasis Tiresias' power and divine. crossword puzzle, and a quiz with an answer key. There is also a .. Creon. Eurydice. Haimon. Megareus. Menoeceus. Laius. Tiresias: The blind prophet of .. her family. Anwgone says that her father's marriage has come back from the.
We learn in Oedipus at Colonus that he is willing to fight with his nephews for this power, and in Antigone Creon rules Thebes with a stubborn blindness that is similar to Oedipus's rule. But Creon never has our sympathy in the way Oedipus does, because he is bossy and bureaucratic, intent on asserting his own authority. Polynices - Son of Oedipus, and thus also his brother. Polynices appears only very briefly in Oedipus at Colonus. He arrives at Colonus seeking his father's blessing in his battle with his brother, Eteocles, for power in Thebes.
Polynices tries to point out the similarity between his own situation and that of Oedipus, but his words seem opportunistic rather than filial, a fact that Oedipus points out. In Oedipus the King, Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts, and Oedipus does not believe him.
In Antigone, Tiresias tells Creon that Creon himself is bringing disaster upon Thebes, and Creon does not believe him. Yet, both Oedipus and Creon claim to trust Tiresias deeply. The literal blindness of the soothsayer points to the metaphorical blindness of those who refuse to believe the truth about themselves when they hear it spoken. Haemon - Creon's son, who appears only in Antigone.
Haemon is engaged to marry Antigone. Motivated by his love for her, he argues with Creon about the latter's decision to punish her. Ismene's minor part underscores her sister's grandeur and courage. Ismene fears helping Antigone bury Polynices but offers to die beside Antigone when Creon sentences her to die.
Antigone, however, refuses to allow her sister to be martyred for something she did not have the courage to stand up for.
Theseus - The king of Athens in Oedipus at Colonus. A renowned and powerful warrior, Theseus takes pity on Oedipus and defends him against Creon. Theseus is the only one who knows the spot at which Oedipus descended to the underworld—a secret he promises Oedipus he will hold forever.
Chorus - Sometimes comically obtuse or fickle, sometimes perceptive, sometimes melodramatic, the Chorus reacts to the events onstage. The Chorus's reactions can be lessons in how the audience should interpret what it is seeing, or how it should not interpret what it is seeing. Eurydice - Creon's wife. Jocasta says that she was told that Laius was killed by "strangers," whereas Oedipus knows that he acted alone when he killed a man in similar circumstances.
This is an extraordinary moment because it calls into question the entire truth-seeking process Oedipus believes himself to be undertaking. Both Oedipus and Jocasta act as though the servant's story, once spoken, is irrefutable history.
Neither can face the possibility of what it would mean if the servant were wrong. This is perhaps why Jocasta feels she can tell Oedipus of the prophecy that her son would kill his father, and Oedipus can tell her about the similar prophecy given him by an oracle —and neither feels compelled to remark on the coincidence; or why Oedipus can hear the story of Jocasta binding her child's ankles — and not think of his own swollen feet.
While the information in these speeches is largely intended to make the audience painfully aware of the tragic irony, it also emphasizes just how desperately Oedipus and Jocasta do not want to speak the obvious truth: The play begins with Creon's return from the oracle at Delphi, where he has learned that the plague will be lifted if Thebes banishes the man who killed Laius. Tiresias prophesies the capture of one who is both father and brother to his own children.
Oedipus tells Jocasta of a prophecy he heard as a youth, that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, and Jocasta tells Oedipus of a similar prophecy given to Laius, that her son would grow up to kill his father. Oedipus and Jocasta debate the extent to which prophecies should be trusted at all, and when all of the prophecies come true, it appears that one of Sophocles' aims is to justify the powers of the gods and prophets, which had recently come under attack in fifth-century B.
Sophocles' audience would, of course, have known the story of Oedipus, which only increases the sense of complete inevitability about how the play would end. It is difficult to say how justly one can accuse Oedipus of being "blind" or foolish when he seems to have no choice about fulfilling the prophecy: Hearing that he is fated to kill his father, he flees Corinth and, by a still more remarkable coincidence, ends up back in Thebes, now king and husband in his actual father's place.
Oedipus seems only to desire to flee his fate, but his fate continually catches up with him. Many people have tried to argue that Oedipus brings about his catastrophe because of a "tragic flaw," but nobody has managed to create a consensus about what Oedipus's flaw actually is.
Perhaps his story is meant to show that error and disaster can happen to anyone, that human beings are relatively powerless before fate or the gods, and that a cautious humility is the best attitude toward life.
Motifs Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.
Suicide - Almost every character who dies in the three Theban plays does so at his or her own hand or own will, as is the case in Oedipus at Colonus. Jocasta hangs herself in Oedipus the King and Antigone hangs herself in Antigone. Eurydice and Haemon stab themselves at the end of Antigone. Oedipus inflicts horrible violence on himself at the end of his first play, and willingly goes to his own mysterious death at the end of his second. Polynices and Eteocles die in battle with one another, and it could be argued that Polynices' death at least is self-inflicted in that he has heard his father's curse and knows that his cause is doomed.
Incest motivates or indirectly brings about all of the deaths in these plays. Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. Oedipus's Swollen Foot - Oedipus gets his name, as the Corinthian messenger tells us in Oedipus the King, from the fact that he was left in the mountains with his ankles pinned together. Jocasta explains that Laius abandoned him in this state on a barren mountain shortly after he was born.
The injury leaves Oedipus with a vivid scar for the rest of his life. Oedipus's injury symbolizes the way in which fate has marked him and set him apart. It also symbolizes the way his movements have been confined and constrained since birth, by Apollo's prophecy to Laius. This crossroads is referred to a number of times during the play, and it symbolizes the crucial moment, long before the events of the play, when Oedipus began to fulfill the dreadful prophecy that he would murder his father and marry his mother.
A crossroads is a place where a choice has to be made, so crossroads usually symbolize moments where decisions will have important consequences but where different choices are still possible. In Oedipus the King, the crossroads is part of the distant past, dimly remembered, and Oedipus was not aware at the time that he was making a fateful decision. In this play, the crossroads symbolizes fate and the awesome power of prophecy rather than freedom and choice.
Athens and have come down to modern editors through the scribal and editorial efforts of scholars in ancient Greece, ancient Alexandria, and medieval Europe Publisher - There is no known publisher of original or early editions.
The most important modern edition of the Greek texts, prepared by A. Pearson, was published by Oxford University Press in and reprinted with corrections in Antigone is the protagonist of Antigone. Major conflict - Antigone's major conflict is between Creon and Antigone. Creon has declared that the body of Polynices may not be given a proper burial because he led the forces that invaded Thebes, but Antigone wishes to give her brother a proper burial nevertheless.
The major conflict of Oedipus the King arises when Tiresias tells Oedipus that Oedipus is responsible for the plague, and Oedipus refuses to believe him. The major conflict of Oedipus at Colonus is between Oedipus and Creon. Creon has been told by the oracle that only Oedipus's return can bring an end to the civil strife in Thebes—Oedipus's two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, are at war over the throne. Oedipus, furious at Thebes for exiling him, has no desire to return.
Rising action - The rising action of Oedipus the King occurs when Creon returns from the oracle with the news that the plague in Thebes will end when the murderer of Laius, the king before Oedipus, is discovered and driven out. The rising action of Oedipus at Colonus occurs when Creon demands that Oedipus return to Thebes and tries to force him to do so. The rising action of Antigone is Antigone's decision to defy Creon's orders and bury her brother. Climax - The climax of Oedipus the King occurs when Oedipus learns, quite contrary to his expectations, that he is the man responsible for the plague that has stricken Thebes—he is the man who killed his father and slept with his mother.
The climax of Oedipus at Colonus happens when we hear of Oedipus's death. The climax of Antigone is when Creon, too late to avert tragedy, decides to pardon Antigone for defying his orders and burying her brother. Falling action - In Oedipus the King, the consequences of Oedipus's learning of his identity as the man who killed his father and slept with his mother are the falling action.
This discovery drives Jocasta to hang herself, Oedipus to poke out his own eyes, and Creon to banish Oedipus from Thebes. The falling action of Oedipus at Colonus is Oedipus's curse of Polynices. The curse is followed by the onset of a storm, which Oedipus recognizes as a signal of his imminent death.
The falling action of Antigone occurs after Creon decides to free Antigone from her tomblike prison. Creon arrives too late and finds that Antigone has hanged herself. Creon's wife, Eurydice, stabs herself. Themes - The power of unwritten law, the willingness to ignore the truth, the limits of free will Motifs - Suicide, sight and blindness, graves and tombs Symbols - Oedipus's swollen foot, the three-way crossroads, Antigone's entombment Foreshadowing - Oedipus's name, which literally means "swollen foot," foreshadows his discovery of his own identity.
Tiresias, the blind prophet, appears in both Oedipus the King and Antigone and announces what will happen to Oedipus and to Creon—only to be completely ignored by both. The truth that comes from Tiresias's blindness foreshadows the revelation that inspires Oedipus to blind himself.
Oedipus's command in Oedipus at Colonus that no one, not even his own daughters, know where he has been buried foreshadows the problems surrounding burial in Antigone. The citizens carry branches wrapped in wool, which they offer to the gods as gifts. Thebes has been struck by a plague, the citizens are dying, and no one knows how to put an end to it.
Oedipus asks a priest why the citizens have gathered around the palace. The priest responds that the city is dying and asks the king to save Thebes. Oedipus replies that he sees and understands the terrible fate of Thebes, and that no one is more sorrowful than he.
He has sent Creon, his brother-in-law and fellow ruler, to the Delphic oracle to find out how to stop the plague. Just then, Creon arrives, and Oedipus asks what the oracle has said. Creon asks Oedipus if he wants to hear the news in private, but Oedipus insists that all the citizens hear. Creon then tells what he has learned from the god Apollo, who spoke through the oracle: He must be driven out in order for the plague to end.
Creon goes on to tell the story of Laius's murder. On their way to consult an oracle, Laius and all but one of his fellow travelers were killed by thieves. Oedipus asks why the Thebans made no attempt to find the murderers, and Creon reminds him that Thebes was then more concerned with the curse of the Sphinx.
Hearing this, Oedipus resolves to solve the mystery of Laius's murder. Apparently, it has not heard Creon's news about Laius's murderer. It bemoans the state of Thebes, and finally invokes Dionysus, whose mother was a Theban. Oedipus returns and tells the Chorus that he will end the plague himself. He asks if anyone knows who killed Laius, promising that the informant will be rewarded and the murderer will receive no harsher punishment than exile.
No one responds, and Oedipus furiously curses Laius's murderer and anyone who is protecting him. Oedipus curses himself, proclaiming that should he discover the murderer to be a member of his own family, that person should be struck by the same exile and harsh treatment that he has just wished on the murderer.
Oedipus castigates the citizens of Thebes for letting the murderer go unknown so long. The Leader of the Chorus suggests that Oedipus call for Tiresias, a great prophet, and Oedipus responds that he has already done so.
Analysis Oedipus is notable for his compassion, his sense of justice, his swiftness of thought and action, and his candor. At this early stage in the play, Oedipus represents all that an Athenian audience—or indeed any audience—could desire in a citizen or a leader.
In his first speech, which he delivers to an old priest whose suffering he seeks to alleviate, he continually voices his concern for the health and well-being of his people. He insists upon allowing all his people to hear what the oracle has said, despite Creon's suggestion that Oedipus hear the news in private. When Creon retells the story of Laius's murder, Oedipus is shocked and dismayed that the investigation of the murder of a king was so swiftly dropped — Oedipus quickly hatches plans to deal with both his people's suffering and Laius's unsolved murder, and he has even anticipated the Chorus's suggestions that he send someone to the oracle and call forth Tiresias.
Finally, Oedipus is vehement in his promises of dire punishment for Laius's murderer, even if the murderer turns out to be someone close to Oedipus himself. Sophocles' audience knew the ancient story of Oedipus well, and would therefore interpret the greatness Oedipus exudes in the first scene as a tragic harbinger of his fall.
Sophocles seizes every opportunity to exploit this dramatic irony. Oedipus frequently alludes to sight and blindness, creating many moments of dramatic irony, since the audience knows that it is Oedipus's metaphorical blindness to the relationship between his past and his present situation that brings about his ruin. For example, when the old priest tells Oedipus that the people of Thebes are dying of the plague, Oedipus says that he could not fail to see this 68— Oedipus eagerly attempts to uncover the truth, acting decisively and scrupulously refusing to shield himself from the truth.
Although we are able to see him as a mere puppet of fate, at some points, the irony is so magnified that it seems almost as if Oedipus brings catastrophe upon himself willingly. One such instance of this irony is when Oedipus proclaims proudly—but, for the audience, painfully—that he possesses the bed of the former king, and that marriage might have even created "blood-bonds" between him and Laius had Laius not been murdered — Although the Chorus's first ode — piously calls to the gods to save Thebes from the plague, the answer they get to their prayer arrives in human form.
Immediately following the ode, Oedipus enters and says that he will answer the Chorus's prayers. For a moment, Oedipus takes upon himself the role of a god—a role the Chorus has been both reluctant and eager to allow him see 39— Oedipus is so competent in the affairs of men that he comes close to dismissing the gods, although he does not actually blaspheme, as Creon does in Antigone.
At this early moment, we see Oedipus's dangerous pride, which explains his willful blindness and, to a certain extent, justifies his downfall. Oedipus begs him to reveal who Laius's murderer is, but Tiresias answers only that he knows the truth but wishes he did not.
Puzzled at first, then angry, Oedipus insists that Tiresias tell Thebes what he knows. Provoked by the anger and insults of Oedipus, Tiresias begins to hint at his knowledge. Finally, when Oedipus furiously accuses Tiresias of the murder, Tiresias tells Oedipus that Oedipus himself is the curse.
Oedipus dares Tiresias to say it again, and so Tiresias calls Oedipus the murderer. The king criticizes Tiresias's powers wildly and insults his blindness, but Tiresias only responds that the insults will eventually be turned on Oedipus by all of Thebes. Driven into a fury by the accusation, Oedipus proceeds to concoct a story that Creon and Tiresias are conspiring to overthrow him.
The leader of the Chorus asks Oedipus to calm down, but Tiresias only taunts Oedipus further, saying that the king does not even know who his parents are. This statement both infuriates and intrigues Oedipus, who asks for the truth of his parentage. Tiresias answers only in riddles, saying that the murderer of Laius will turn out to be both brother and father to his children, both son and husband to his mother.
The characters exit and the Chorus takes the stage, confused and unsure whom to believe. They resolve that they will not believe any of these accusations against Oedipus unless they are shown proof. Creon enters, soon followed by Oedipus.
Oedipus accuses Creon of trying to overthrow him, since it was he who recommended that Tiresias come. Creon asks Oedipus to be rational, but Oedipus says that he wants Creon murdered. Both Creon and the leader of the Chorus try to get Oedipus to understand that he's concocting fantasies, but Oedipus is resolute in his conclusions and his fury.
Analysis As in Antigone, the entrance of Tiresias signals a crucial turning point in the plot. But in Oedipus the King, Tiresias also serves an additional role—his blindness augments the dramatic irony that governs the play. Tiresias is blind but can see the truth; Oedipus has his sight but cannot. Oedipus claims that he longs to know the truth; Tiresias says that seeing the truth only brings one pain.
In addition to this unspoken irony, the conversation between Tiresias and Oedipus is filled with references to sight and eyes. As Oedipus grows angrier, he taunts Tiresias for his blindness, confusing physical sight and insight, or knowledge.
Tiresias matches Oedipus insult for insult, mocking Oedipus for his eyesight and for the brilliance that once allowed him to solve the riddle of the Sphinx—neither quality is now helping Oedipus to see the truth. In this section, the characteristic swiftness of Oedipus's thought, words, and action begins to work against him.
When Tiresias arrives at lineOedipus praises him as an all-powerful seer who has shielded Thebes from many a plague. Only forty lines later, he refers to Tiresias as "scum," and soon after that accuses him of treason. Oedipus sizes up a situation, makes a judgment, and acts—all in an instant. While this confident expedience was laudable in the first section, it is exaggerated to a point of near absurdity in the second. Oedipus asks Tiresias and Creon a great many questions—questions are his typical mode of address and frequently a sign of his quick and intelligent mind—but they are merely rhetorical, for they accuse and presume rather than seek answers.
Though Tiresias has laid the truth out plainly before Oedipus, the only way Oedipus can interpret the prophet's words is as an attack, and his quest for information only seeks to confirm what he already believes. The Chorus seems terrified and helpless in this section, and its speech at lines — is fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. Though, like Oedipus, the Chorus cannot believe the truth of what Tiresias has said, the Chorus does not believe itself to be untouchable as Oedipus does, consisting as it does of the plague-stricken, innocent citizens of Thebes.
The Chorus's speech is full of images of caves, darkness, lightning, and wings, which suggest darkness, the unknown, and, most significantly, terror striking from the skies. The Chorus's supplications to the benevolent gods of lines — are long past.
The gods are still present in this speech, but they are no longer of any help, because they know truths that they will not reveal. Thebes is menaced rather than protected by the heavens. Creon leaves, and the Chorus reassures Oedipus that it will always be loyal to him. Oedipus explains to Jocasta how Tiresias condemned him, and Jocasta responds that all prophets are false.
As proof, she offers the fact that the Delphic oracle told Laius he would be murdered by his son, while actually his son was cast out of Thebes as a baby and Laius was murdered by a band of thieves. Her narrative of his murder, however, sounds familiar to Oedipus, and he asks to hear more.
He tells Jocasta that, long ago, when he was the prince of Corinth, he heard at a banquet that he was not really the son of the king and queen, and so went to the Oracle of Delphi, which did not answer him but did tell him he would murder his father and sleep with his mother. Hearing this, Oedipus fled from home, never to return.
The Oedipus Trilogy
It was then, on the journey that would take him to Thebes, that Oedipus was confronted and harassed by a group of travelers, whom he killed in self-defense, at the very crossroads where Laius was killed.
Hoping that he will not be identified as Laius's murderer, Oedipus sends for the shepherd who was the only man to survive the attack. Oedipus and Jocasta leave the stage, and the Chorus enters, announcing that the world is ruled by destiny and denouncing prideful men who would defy the gods.
At the same time, the Chorus worries that if all the prophecies and oracles are wrong—if a proud man can, in fact, triumph—then the gods may not rule the world after all. Jocasta enters from the palace to offer a branch wrapped in wool to Apollo. Analysis Whatever sympathy we might have lost for Oedipus amid his ranting in the second section, we regain at least partially in the third. After Jocasta intercedes in the fight between Oedipus and Creon, Oedipus calms down and recalls that there is a riddle before him that he, as the ruler of Thebes, has a responsibility to solve.
Consequently, his incessant questions become more purposeful than they were in his conversations with Tiresias and Creon.
We see that Oedipus logically and earnestly pursues the truth when he does not have a preconceived idea of what the truth is. When Oedipus seizes upon the detail of the three-way crossroads —he proves that he was not merely grandstanding in the first scene of the play when he expressed his desire to be forthright with his citizens and to subject himself to the same laws he imposes upon others.
In his speech at lines —, Oedipus shows that he truly believes he killed Laius and is willing to accept not only the responsibility but the punishment for the act. The speech is heartbreaking because we know that Oedipus has arrived at only half the truth. In this section, Jocasta is both careless and maternal. She tells Oedipus that prophecies do not come true, and she uses the fact that an oracle incorrectly prophesied that Laius would be killed by his own son as evidence.
Jocasta's mistake is similar to Oedipus's in the previous section: As Oedipus assumed that Tiresias's unpleasant claims could only be treason, so Jocasta assumes that because one prophecy has apparently not come to pass, prophecies can only be lies.
While Oedipus's hasty and imperfect logic in the second section has much to do with his pride, Jocasta's in this section seem attached to an unwitting desire to soothe and mother Oedipus. When Jocasta is not answering Oedipus's questions, she is calming him down, asking him to go into the palace, telling him that he has nothing to worry about—no need to ask more questions—for the rest of his life. Jocasta's casual attitude upsets the Chorus, which continues to be loyal to Oedipus throughout this section see — The Chorus's ode at lines — serves as a reminder that neither Oedipus, Jocasta, nor the sympathetic audience should feel calm, because oracles speak to a purpose and are inspired by the gods who control the destiny of men.
Throughout the play, the Chorus has been miserable, desperate for the plague to end and for stability to be restored to the city. Nevertheless, the Chorus holds staunchly to the belief that the prophesies of Tiresias will come true. For if they do not, there is no order on earth or in the heavens. Many a man before you, in his dreams, has shared his mother's bed.
Take such things for shadows, nothing at all— Live, Oedipus, as if there's no tomorrow! A messenger enters, looking for Oedipus. He tells Jocasta that he has come from Corinth to tell Oedipus that his father, Polybus, is dead, and that Corinth wants Oedipus to come and rule there.
Oedipus The King Quiz Questions - ProProfs Quiz
Jocasta rejoices, convinced that since Polybus is dead from natural causes, the prophecy that Oedipus will murder his father is false. Oedipus arrives, hears the messenger's news, and rejoices with Jocasta; king and queen concur that prophecies are worthless and the world is ruled by chance.
However, Oedipus still fears the part of the prophecy that said he would sleep with his mother. The messenger says he can rid himself of that worry, because Polybus and his wife, Merope, are not really Oedipus's natural parents. The messenger explains that he used to be a shepherd years ago. One day, he found a baby on Mount Cithaeron, near Thebes.
The baby had its ankles pinned together, and the former shepherd set them free. That baby was Oedipus, who still walks with a limp because of the injury to his ankles so long ago. When Oedipus inquires who left him in the woods on the mountain, the messenger replies that another shepherd, Laius's servant, gave him baby Oedipus. At this, Jocasta turns sharply, seeming to sense some horrible revelation on the horizon. Oedipus wants to find this shepherd, so he can find out who his natural parents are.
Jocasta begs him to abandon his search immediately, but Oedipus is insistent. Creon finally relents after advice from the chorus leader choragosafter Tiresias tells him to bury the body. However, when Creon arrives at the tomb where she was to be interred, Antigone has already hanged herself rather than be buried alive. His son, Haemonthreatens him and tries to kill him but ends up taking his own life. His behavior, however, suggests otherwise. He aggressively preaches the concept of family honor to his son, Haemon.
Creon also believes that his decrees are consistent with the will of the gods and with the best interests of the people, whether true or not.
When a legitimate argument is raised against his course of action by Tiresias, he is in fact completely open to changing course, even before he learns of the deaths of his family members. In Oedipus Rex, he appears to favor the will of the gods above decrees of state. Even when Oedipus says that, once dethroned, he must be exiled, Creon waits for the approval of the gods to carry out the order once he has been crowned king.
Some explanation for these discrepancies in personality may be drawn from his characterization in the third of the Oedipus plays by Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus. Here, Creon takes on another persona: He is a "colorless figure" beyond his official position, which suggests that his differing personality traits in the books are because he is a flexible figure whom poets can characterize as they please.
As in Antigone, he refuses to allow the burial of defeated enemies. His enemies' widows appeal to Theseuswho defeats Creon in battle.
Though much discussed, he does not appear as a character in either version. The Roman poet Statius recounts a differing version of Creon's assumption of power from that followed by Sophocles, in his first-century epic, the Thebaid.
This alternate narrative may have been based on a previous epic of the Theban cycle written by the Greek poet Antimachus in the 4th or 5th century BC.