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Significance of the Women in Oedipus Rex

Significance of the Women in Oedipus Rex

Michael J. O’Brien in the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, maintains that there is “a good deal of evidence to support this view” that the fifth century playwright was the “educator of his people” and a “teacher”. Sophocles in his tragedy, Oedipus Rex, teaches about “morally desirable attitudes and behavior,” (4) and uses three women to help convey these principles of living. This essay will explore the role of women in the drama, the attitude toward women therein, the involvement of women in plot development, and other aspects of women in Oedipus Rex.

At the outset of Oedipus Rex no female characters are present; the reader sees a king who comes to the door full of curiosity: “Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread /Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave?” When the priest has responded that the people are despairing from the effects of the plague, the king shows sympathy for his subjects: “Ye sicken all, well wot I, yet my pain, /How great soever yours, outtops it all.” Thomas Van Nortwick in Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life : “We see already the supreme self-confidence and ease of command in Oedipus. . . . exudes a godlike mastery in the eyes of his subjects. . . .”(21-22); such “godlike mastery” will be his undoing. The critic Ehrenberg warns that it “may lead to ‘hubris’” (74-75). Throughout the drama Sophocles draws out an ongoing contrast between the “godlike mastery” of the king and the softer, more balanced and selfless characteristics of Jocasta, his wife. She is a foil to Oedipus. Shortly thereafter Creon, Jocasta’s brother, is returning from the Delphic oracle with the fateful words of the god’s command: “…

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…ichael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. new?tag=public

Sophocles’ Antigone – Sophocles and Antigone

Sophocles and Antigone

Sophocles is an ancient Greek writer and philosopher, who wrote one of the greatest stories of all time Antigone. Sophocles is also said to be one of the greatest minds in the ancient world. This paper talks about Antigone, achievements and times of Sophocles.

Sophocles was born about 496 BC at Colonus in Attica, near Athens and died 406 BC. He lived in the most brilliant intellectual period of Athens. Sophillus, his father, was a wealth Athenian citizen and gave him a sound education in music, gymnastics, and dancing. He was well known as having a reputation for learning and esthetic taste. He was well versed in Homer and the Greek lyric poets, and because of his industriousness he was known as the “Attic Bee” (Rexine 132). “Do to his youthful beauty, he was chosen to lead the chorus in the Paen of Thanksgiving for the naval victory at Salamis in 480 BC.” (Rexine 132)

In Sophocles’ long life he several times held public office, partly do to his fame as a dramatist and his gentle qualities as a man. “In 440 BC he was appointed one of the generals in the war which Pericles led against Samos, and in 413 BC.” (Magill, Kohler p# 1023) He was also one of the ten commissioners appointed after the failure of the expedition to Sicily, to govern Athens. Pericles once said to him “you know how to write poetry, but you certainly don’t know how to command an army” (Internet)

Sophocles first won first prize, in a competition with Aeschylus, on 468 BC at the age of twenty-eight. During his career he never won less than second prize and gained first prize twenty times, more than any other Greek tragedian. Sophocles wrote more than 120 tragedies, only a mear seven have survived. “Plutarch tells us that there were three periods in Sophocles’s literary development: imitation of the grand style of Aeschylus, use of artificial and incisive style, and use of the best style and that which is most expressive of character. It is only from the third period we have examples of.” (Rexine p#134)

The seven tragedies that survive are Ajax 447 BC, Antigone 442/441 BC, Oedipus at Colonus 401 BC, Tracheniae 437-432 BC, Oedipus Rex 429 BC, Electra 418-414 BC.

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