Oedipus Rex -Sophocles

Oedipus rex -Sophocles
Throughout Time reading list
how obtained: free kindle version

Back to the beginning again! This time we journey to the beginning of theatre. In ancient Greece, theatre was a religious experience dedicated to Dionysus, the god and wine of altered states (whether that be from the wine, or from religious ecstasy). They were usually put on as part of a festival, with thousands coming to watch a large number of plays. At the end of the festival, judge’s would vote to decide which was the best play. Playwright were not the struggling artists we think of today- they were often politicians, businessmen, and leaders of the community.

Sophocles was believed to have authored 123 plays. Only seven are still in existence. The most famous would be the Oedipus trilogy, of which I read the first. While really they should probably be read together, as the story continues on straight away, I must admit that starting at a point of knowing nothing about ancient literature, it is a bit hard to be quite that enthusiastic! So I plan to read one of each author, find out a bit about the context and history, and then be able to read the rest at some unknown time in the future with more insight. 😛

The story of Oedipus rex was not invented by Sophocles- it would have been well known to Athenians already. Oedipus is king, after having saved the kingdom from a Sphinx by answering her riddle. He had been running from home to avoid fulfilling a prophesy that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Unfortunately he was unaware that he was adopted, and that staying home would have been the safest course. He was a pretty good king, but some kind of curse has fallen on the land. it comes to light that the God’s are unhappy that the old king’s death went unavenged, so Oedipus determines to find the man responsible.

This play is, compared to some of the ancient writings, not too hard to read. I did find it useful to watch the crash course video first. I am happy I have read it because, like with many of these olds texts, there are several things that are referenced in modern culture,which find their origins in it. There are links between all times of history- it is not just genetics that are passed down through the generations, but ideas, stories and values.


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