Electra by Sophocles


Defining the Soul of Oedipus: Sophocles’ Play Alongside Plato’s Republic

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Translations of Sophocles’ play are generally interpreted in one of two ways, ‘Oedipus Rex’, meaning Oedipus the King, or ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’, meaning Oedipus the Tyrant. The exact distinction between the two titles is undefined, though through the lens of Socrates’ five characterizations of the soul, the readers can identify what type of man he is. Throughout the text, Oedipus exhibits elements of Socrates’ tripartite soul: the rational, the spirited, and the appetitive. Each person has a unique balance of these parts, and only by combining these with Socrates’ five characterizations of the soul is it possible to place Oedipus. The five characterizations are the aristocratic, the timocratic, the oligarchical, the democratic, and the tyrannical soul. Oedipus fulfills a share of each of these characterizations with his actions in Oedipus Tyrannus. Oedipus embodies all of these different types of character; and within them he resembles all three parts of Socrates tripartite soul. Socrates believed that one could have a gold soul of pure reason and willingness to learn, a silver soul, of courage, or an iron soul, one that hasn’t the purity or drive to complete true goodness. Oedipus is able to embody each characterization, proving that he cannot truly have a gold, silver, or iron soul, due to the wealth of actions that he takes. His soul, and thus the type of man he is, must be regarded as a mix of gold, silver, and iron as a result of his mercurial nature.

Within The Republic, Plato relays through writing Socrates’ vision for an ideal city, Kallipolis. The foundation of the city is built on the idea that society is perfectly balanced, and ruled through the system of aristocracy, the rule of the best. Socrates believes these aristocrats take the form of philosophers, yearning for knowledge and only ruling because they view it as a responsibility, not as an honor. Plato writes of the philosopher kings that they are, “they must refuse to accept what is false, hate it, and have a love for the truth”.[1] Socrates’ explanation of the philosopher king provides an explanation to how highly regarded they are, and as a result these kings carry golden souls. In relation to Oedipus, he amiably saves the city of Thebes from the clutches of the sphinx, allowing him to come to power and free the people of Thebes. His wit allows him to rise to power, after solving the riddle of a sphinx to free the city of a former plague, “You came to Thebes, saved us from the Sphinx.”[2] He addresses his people when they congregate at the palace, and tells of how he won’t relent in his search for knowledge on how to end the plague within the city. This displays how Oedipus naturally is inclined to take responsibility for his people, likening him to a philosopher king, who gives all he has to benefit his subjects. In addition, he wants to know this for the benefit of others selflessly. In Oedipus’ conversation with Jocasta after Oedipus begins to come around to the idea that it may have been him who committed the murder, Jocasta urges him to stop investigating the case of Laius’ death. However, Oedipus believes that he cannot stop until he finds the truth, “I still want/That herdsman here.”, [3] referring to a witness of the death of Laius. His earnest inquiry relating to the death of Laius shines light upon his ability, albeit inconsistent, to control his emotions and think rationally, regardless of what is at stake. At a multitude of points during the play, Oedipus is able to logically pursue truth, displaying attributes associated with that of a golden soul. This suggests that Oedipus’ soul partially consists of gold, that of the highest social ranking in Kallipolis.

A group known as the auxiliaries also exists within Plato’s Kallipolis. The auxiliaries are born with souls of silver, and their duty is to defend the city, of them Socrates says, “isn’t it truly most correct to call these people complete guardians (auxiliaries), since they will guard against external enemies and internal friends.”[4] As evidenced by this quote, their role was distinct from the philosopher kings in the sense that the auxiliaries’ pursuit of knowledge is not as strong as the philosopher king’s pursuit of knowledge, and honor replaces wisdom as the primary concern for auxiliaries. The silver souls of auxiliaries are equated to souls of honor, which is closely tied to the soul of a timocrat. The timocratic man is one who holds valor above all. Throughout Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus embodies the timocrat at a couple points. He sought retribution upon the person who put the city under a plague, he exclaims, “I will stop at nothing to find/ The one who has this man’s blood on his hands”.[5] Though he wants to help the city, he also aims to uphold his reputation while gaining respect for saving the city of Thebes once again, cementing himself as the most adept ruler. His drive to curse the murderer stems from his spiritual soul, not from his rational soul. As the play concludes, Oedipus learns of his fate as he falls from grace. He laments, “I am the destroyer, the curse,/ The man the gods loathe most of all”,[6] in this way, Oedipus is a timocrat. He realizes the honor that he has lost, and bemoans how he cannot get it back. Oedipus displays a timocratic character with a silver soul, and as a result he cannot be philosopher king or golden soul.

The natural progression from a timocratic character is to an oligarchical one. The oligarchical character possesses an appetitive soul, Socrates’ believed that this appetitive soul was the weakest of the parts of the soul, and easily submits to desire. The oligarchical soul desires wealth, and its insatiably appetite for wealth is treasured above all else. Oedipus makes his own oligarchical tendencies apparent through his obsession with power. He accuses Tiresias of conspiring with his brother-in-law, Creon, and cannot let go of his throne until he learns the full truth about his family, when he finally surrenders outside of his palace. Oedipus later accuses Creon, “Here’s the murderer in plain sight./ Clearly, he meant to steal my power”.[7] His extremely defensive of his power results in a fight between the brother-in-laws, establishing that Oedipus tests his familial relationship with his wealth and power. Oedipus obsesses over his wealth, which comes in the form of his royalty and political power. Terrified of losing these values, he goes to any extent to protect them, making him oligarchical. The oligarchical soul does not place emphasis on the truth of knowledge, and is only appetitive, meaning Oedipus’ soul is furthered cluttered with iron metals.

The Republic proposes another characterization of the soul, that of a democrat. The democratic soul is appetitive by nature and covets freedom above all else, sacrificing all they can for the sake of newfound liberty. Though freedom is important, it can often turn to licentiousness if it is unstructured, which restricts freedom if it is not used in moderation. The democratic characterization stresses that all everyone is involved, and Oedipus reflects that in his actions throughout the play. When Creon returns with news on how to end the plague, Oedipus makes sure all of Thebes hears, “Let everyone hear. I grieve for them/ Far more than I do for myself”.[8] His trust in the strength of the citizens as a collective is closely aligned with the ideologies of democratic characterization. Within a speech to the people where he promises to punish the perpetrator who killed the Laius, Oedipus is completely fair, “I damn myself, if I should come to know/ That he shares my hearth and home –/ Then I call this curse to fall on me.”[9] has a partially democratic character, meaning there is more iron mixed into his soul, separating him further from Socrates’ ideal of a philosopher king. Oedipus displays the soul of a democrat through his belief in people, and the idea that all are equal under the law. The notion of this is noble, but still appetitive, as he inadvertently damns himself with this statement. The soul of the tyrant is also present within Oedipus. The tyrant is chained to his appetite, he is obsessed with lust and entrenched in himself. The tyrant is willing to do anything for more of whatever he may think will satisfy his appetite, and cannot think rationally, making him the opposite of the philosopher king. Oedipus can be seen as a tyrant when analyzing the extremes he performed to in order to gain and keep power. Without intent, Oedipus commits patricide, and incest. Afterwards, he threatens to kill his brother-in-law, Creon, “I demand your death.”[10] Another commonality amongst tyrants is being blind to the truth. The soul of a tyrant is also present with Oedipus, further muddling his mix of gold, silver, and iron soul. The tyrant proves to be the soul farthest from that of a philosopher king, and though he shows negative characteristics, it cannot be said that Oedipus is a tyrant himself. Oedipus exhibits aspects of each of the five characterizations of the soul in Sophocles play. Oedipus uncovers certain aspects of the tripartite soul in his character, yet they all combine to form his soul. It must be concluded that his soul is a mix of gold, silver, and iron metals. It can threaten murder, and it can pursue learning and knowledge, Oedipus is a character that bridges is hard to define under one category. He cannot be only ‘Oedipus Rex’, nor only ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’, Oedipus can only be Oedipus. [1] Plato, Republic, Trans, G.M.A Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992), 485b [2] Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), line 35 [3] Ibid., 860/81 bid.,

The soul of the tyrant is also present within Oedipus. The tyrant is chained to his appetite, he is obsessed with lust and entrenched in himself. The tyrant is willing to do anything for more of whatever he may think will satisfy his appetite, and cannot think rationally, making him the opposite of the philosopher king. Oedipus can be seen as a tyrant when analyzing the extremes he performed to in order to gain and keep power. Without intent, Oedipus commits patricide, and incest. Afterwards, he threatens to kill his brother-in-law, Creon, “I demand your death.”[10] Another commonality amongst tyrants is being blind to the truth. The soul of a tyrant is also present with Oedipus, further muddling his mix of gold, silver, and iron soul. The tyrant proves to be the soul farthest from that of a philosopher king, and though he shows negative characteristics, it cannot be said that Oedipus is a tyrant himself.

Oedipus exhibits aspects of each of the five characterizations of the soul in Sophocles play. Oedipus uncovers certain aspects of the tripartite soul in his character, yet they all combine to form his soul. It must be concluded that his soul is a mix of gold, silver, and iron metals. It can threaten murder, and it can pursue learning and knowledge, Oedipus is a character that bridges is hard to define under one category. He cannot be only ‘Oedipus Rex’, nor only ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’, Oedipus can only be Oedipus. [1] Plato, Republic, Trans, G.M.A Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992), 485b [2] Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), line 35 [3] Ibid., 860/81 bid.,

The soul of the tyrant is also present within Oedipus. The tyrant is chained to his appetite, he is obsessed with lust and entrenched in himself. The tyrant is willing to do anything for more of whatever he may think will satisfy his appetite, and cannot think rationally, making him the opposite of the philosopher king. Oedipus can be seen as a tyrant when analyzing the extremes he performed to in order to gain and keep power. Without intent, Oedipus commits patricide, and incest. Afterwards, he threatens to kill his brother-in-law, Creon, “I demand your death.”[10] Another commonality amongst tyrants is being blind to the truth. The soul of a tyrant is also present with Oedipus, further muddling his mix of gold, silver, and iron soul. The tyrant proves to be the soul farthest from that of a philosopher king, and though he shows negative characteristics, it cannot be said that Oedipus is a tyrant himself.

Oedipus exhibits aspects of each of the five characterizations of the soul in Sophocles’ play. Oedipus uncovers certain aspects of the tripartite soul in his character, yet they all combine to form his soul. It must be concluded that his soul is a mix of gold, silver, and iron metals. It can threaten murder, and it can pursue learning and knowledge, Oedipus is a character that bridges is hard to define under one category. He cannot be only ‘Oedipus Rex’, nor only ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’, Oedipus can only be Oedipus.

[1] Plato, Republic, Trans, G.M.A Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992), 485b [2] Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), line 35 [3] Ibid., 860/81 bid.,th powern, a silver soul, 92. Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannus. Translated by Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Ha [4] Plato, Republic, Trans, G.M.A Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992), 414b [5] Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), line 266 [6] Ibid., line 1345 [7] Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), 534-535 [8] Ibid., 93-94 [9] Ibid., 249 [10] Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), line 622

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Main Features Of Creon’s Character

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Characterization of The Tragic Hero Creon in Antigone

A tragic hero is an overall good person who has flaws that lead to their own downfall. The concept of a tragic hero is represented in the drama “Antigone” written by Sophocles. Creon, the king of Thebes, is the tragic hero. The characteristics of Creon, the way he acts, and the decisions he makes, all prove him to be the tragic hero in this drama.

Creon has the traits of an acceptable person. He treats everyone the same and does not even make exceptions for family. Creon speaks angrily, “This girl is guilty of a double insolence, breaking the given laws and boasting of it” (Sophocles 762). This exhibits that he is willing to treat and punish Antigone like he would to any other person who breaks the law. He does this to insure to the people that he is an admirable leader and wants to set a good example. In the same way, Creon does not want to show weakness as a leader. Creon states, “She or I, if this crime goes unpunished?” (762). He is saying that if he shows fear or hesitation, than the people will feel as if they do not have a satisfactory leader. He needs to be assertive and go through with his decisions even if that means punishing his niece. Furthermore, after talking to Haimon, Creon realizes that he should not punish Ismene. Creon says, “No, you are right. I will not kill the one whose hands are clean” (775). Even though Creon is penalizing Antigone for breaking the law, he notices that Ismene is not guilty of anything. This demonstrates that Creon is trying to be as fair as he possibly believes that he can be. He shows mercy by sparing Ismene. All of these actions display evidence of Creon’s goodness as a person.

Creon exhibits good traits but he does acquire flawed traits as well. One of these flawed traits is insensitivity. Haimon utters, “Then she must die- But her death will cause another”(775). Creon later responds, “Bring the woman out! Let her die before his eyes!” (775). Creon expresses no sympathy for Haimon when he says this. He does not care that Haimon will kill himself if Antigone dies. When Creon reacts to this in an anything but delicate approach, it represents his detachment and disinterest in something that does not involve him. Following this further, Creon demonstrates traits of hubris and overconfidence when he denies burial of Polyneices. Creon states, “An enemy is an enemy, even dead”(764). He is hubris because he has excessive pride over his decision. Antigone argues that Creon is Polyneices’ brother and there are honors due to all the dead but Creon still thinks he is right and Polyneices does not deserve a burial. Consequently, Creon indicates that he has the inability to listen to others, especially if they are younger than him. Creon chuckles, “You consider it right for a man of my years and experience to go to school to a boy?” (774). Creon assumes that Haimon is wrong just because he is younger than him. Haimon tries to give Creon advice but Creon does not want to listen. This exhibits that Creon is ruling in his own favor and does not take anyone else’s opinions into consideration. These actions display how Creon’s character is flawed.

Scenes in this drama support evidence of Creon deserving sympathy. Creon finally realizes what he does is wrong. He admits, “Come with me to the tomb. I buried her, I will set her free” (783). Not only does he realize, but he also admits to his mistakes. Creon finally sees that he should bury Polyneices and not punish Antigone, but he comprehends this too late. Moreover, bad timing affects Creon’s plan of freeing Antigone and building a tomb for Polyneices. Messenger states, “She had a noose of her fine linen veil and hanged herself” (786). Creon should have let Antigone free from the cave first because she is still alive and getting punished. Then he should have buried Polynieces because he is already dead and there is nothing you can do for him. After Haimon finds Antigone in the cave, not alive, it triggers two more deaths. Because Antigone commits suicide, Creon loses his wife and Haimon also. Creon cries, “I have killed my son and my wife. I look for comfort; my comfort lies here dead” (789). Creon now has nobody left. He has no niece, no son, and no wife. He has no one to comfort him because of his rash and foolish actions. No doubt, Creon realizes what he has done wrong too late. These actions and events that take place are evidence of Creon being a character that deserves sympathy.

Creon experiences struggles with flaws within his character. These struggles ultimately defeat him in the end but he recognizes what he does wrong. Creon’s characteristics of goodness, characteristics that are flawed, and why he is deserving of sympathy, eventually reassure him to be the tragic hero in this drama. Therefore, one might have to make substantial mistakes in order to recognize the flaws they retain within their own character.

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The Existence Of Real Justice In Our Time (Based On Sophocles’ Ajax)

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Since its creation, Greek tragedy has created a pattern of particular events. Not just politically speaking, but also diving deep in themes that include divine thought and interaction of humans as brothers or enemies to death. Sophocles’ Ajax is no exception to that reasoning, treating themes like political hegemony and the truth behind one of the biggest “dark pages” in human history: Justice. But was it Ajax’s story is an example on how justice and forgiveness can make triumph during a human conflict? In this essay will be treated an analyzed every subject exposed in the play and using references from all over the world we will discover whether there exists (or existed, as we’d like to think) real justice in our time (or in Sophocles’).

Being performed in 445 B.Sc. the play represents the events occurred after Iliad and it can be said that it was made by Sophocles’ boiling humanism and his deep interest in “human drama”. This goes from the ideal possibility of oneself and putting the human being in the center of the action and developing, through him, all the events, as well as considering human emotion (fear, pain, love…) and its everlasting interaction with characters’ environment. This is given by the fact that even after Ajax’ death, he is still interacting with his comrades and enemies by the drama of his own sepulchre. In the same rough laws of the father (omois autois nómois patrós) needed is to tame it and make it similar to its true nature.

This is said by Ajax possessed by pain and insanity referring to his son. The mention of laws as an active formative element of oneself is one of Sophocles’ deepest themes and inspirations in the play. His interest became focused on the event that unlocked the protagonist’ craziness and the different perspectives on which the event was valued through time; the consequences that this process implied for Ajax, according to Sophocles’ vision of tragedy and the ideas that can be taken from this to the history of the city. The play gets in the action after the trial of Ajax against Odysseus in which the last one goes out victorious. Defeated Ajax has revenge desires inside him and so he goes to the Odysseus’ camp at night to take vengeance on his troops, which he means to kill while asleep, but the goddess Athena stop his enterprise by giving him a passenger craziness that makes him confuse humans and cows. After waking up from his insanity, and realizing the complexity of his situation (almost ridiculous) he decides to commit suicide. The drama is not ended with this, but with the conflict between the Atrids (which do not desire Ajax to be given a proper sepulchre as they consider him a traitor) and his half-brother that is willing to fight for the burial of the hero. The shocking intervention of Odysseus on favour of the deceased prevents the Atrids from dishonoring the corpse, achieves acceptance from Ajax’ half-brother and make Ajax’ right to a proper sepulchre prevail.

As said before, the play’s major theme is justice and its consequences on the life of the hero and afterwards, his death. It can be considered as a way of evoking the thought in people by Sophocles that ancient Greece really had a debt with justice. But this is not necessarily true. If we analyze in the play the figure of Odysseus (one of the most introverted characters) we can almost instantly see that Sophocles thinks of Odysseus as a much nobler character that other Homeric poets in their respective plays. With that said, we can really think that if Sophocles’ perception about Odysseus was true, then even with a manipulated trial were everyone judged as themselves and did not make an impartial judgment (the slaves judged as slaves, the goddesses also did the same thing) there was still a sense of justice. Both sides were equally right. Basically speaking there were two different types of heroism both valid. Also can be said that most of the subjects in the play have something to do with the struggle of a fallen hero that carries the weight of all the people around him in his own shoulders and still do not run away or is a victim of fear.

Many academics of the play focused in taking an accurate significance to the historical events that influenced the play, most of them related with the debates in Athens about the reforms made in the legislation of the city. We can also consider Ajax as a symbolic representation of Athens against Sparta and Argos and an allusion of what the future of Themistocles would be (a contemporary citizen of Athens). Ajax’ insanity can be considered also merely political because he understood that the distortion with which the world watched the hero was related with his extreme sense of moral and with his vision of external problems from a total self-sufficient and human perspective; this means, from a political perspective. In other way of seeing it, the tragic poet is sending a religious message since the beginning of the play when at the end of Ajax’s life we realize that is not human judgment that has made his tragic end. It was divine judgment that has doomed him.

The play exemplifies with great success the Golden Age of Athens by defining a story were democracy rules the set in every moment and the resources of the other allied empires are given (with or without previous approbation) to the city that holds on the weight of all of its inhabitants and supports their lives. Also adverting that Ajax was one of the most politically compromised plays of the author as a wake-up call on the problems of ethic fundamentals and socio-political structure in Athens, manifested through the failures of Ajax’s interests and Atrids’. Just being won by another point of view (Odysseus).

It all resumes in how enemies can be friends and how a political unfair judgment can find a way of being solved in ancient society. Not by laws or pompous procedures but as brothers. It is very clear for Sophocles; the only way of making peace is to understand each other’s pain.

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Review of the Personality of Haemon in Sophocles’ Play, Antigone

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Treating others with kindness and respect is an important way of showing how you are expecting to be treated by people who surrounded you. In the Greek play “Antigone”, Haemon shares with his father many ideas and feelings he has encountered from Creon’s unchangeable, selfish decisions. Haemon appeals to his father through logos, pathos, and ethos in order to change Creon’s mind.

Haemon projects his logistic thoughts towards his father wanting to go against the gods and kill his nephew for a small reasoning, not worth a death, by expressing “I hope that I shall never want to say! – that you/have reasoned badly” (scene 3. 54-55). With time still left to change his father’s mind, Haemon continued to put effort towards trying to break Creon’s pride by sharing what the smart thing to do is versus what he wants to do. He referred to his father’s position of being king and how although it was a position of a leader and ruler, he was “not in position to know everything/that people say or do, or what they feel: /” (Scene3. 57-58). By saying opinions for not only himself, but for others in the city of Thebes, he hoped for the realization that he would not want to be treated the way he was treating others.

The way Haemon included true, vivid emotions for support towards his expression of common sense showed how powerful his feelings were, both for and against his father. Without much clemency, he mentioned “Your temper terrifies them – everyone/will tell you only what you like to hear” (Scene3. 59-60). People had him fooled thinking that they loved what his evil works were doing. Creon’s son himself wanted so badly to have sympathy for his father without the fear of remiss, yet he continues to witness that “…I have heard them/muttering and whispering in the darkness about this girl”(Scene3. 61-62). Disappointment and embarrassment pressed on Haemon because he was the son of Creon and did not want to be known by his father who killed Antigone.

Believing in his father was the one strong bond that was helping to maintain the last bit of his hope. Through his smart and generous encouragement, he questioned “Must not any son/value his father’s fortune as his father does his?”(Scene3. 71-72). By questioning the fairness between the bond of Creon and his son, he thought of it as being able to reflect back to the fairness shared within him and the city of Thebes. The thought of trust and credibility that were capable of being earned influenced Haemon to share much needed words to his father about how “The man who maintains that only he has the power/to reason correctly, the gift to speak, the soul – /A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty”(Scene3. 76-78). Though is words may have come off a little harsh, they were the truth and they needed to be heard. Followed by hearing the words of wisdom from Creon’s son came putting the words in action. Understanding that he was young and that the youth along with the things they say, are generally referred to as stupidity, Haemon begged for his father’s mind and decisions to be smartly chosen, for “The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach”(Scene3. 91). His unfeigned advice expressed how sincere he felt towards Creon.

Being the most close to Creon, Haemon shares a strong love with his father that is filled with such deep, affectionate emotions and such truthful, meaningful words of wisdom. Regardless of the discrepancy his father generally had while listening to other people, Haemon did the right thing by sticking up for his father with the perfect amount of encouragement and wisdom. I strongly believe that every aspect of Haemon expressed in his speech, towards his father, deserves for Creon to become completely free of the unchangeable mind and prideful, evil ways he has been so set on, to be given a chance by being put into action by his father. I believe that if that were the outcome, Creon and Haemon would have such a beautiful bond between each other that it would impact millions of people around the world and their relationships with others.

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Oedipus Rex’s Insecurities and Fears in the Play by Sophocles

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

It is a well-known fact of life that even the most accomplished people can feel insecure. They suffer self-doubt and, in some cases, are in constant need of support and assurance that they are the great people everyone else perceives them to be. Written by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex explores the profound insecurities of its main character, King Oedipus, whilst he searches for the killer of King Laios.

The play begins when Oedipus has already been crowned King. His great accomplishment of conquering the Sphinx has already been relegated to the distant past. Despite the obvious wealth and position Oedipus has achieved, he maintains an inner state of extreme emotional insecurity, and panics at the thought of losing all he has struggled so hard to gain – his very position as King. Oedipus reveals this fear when he attacks Kreon for bringing to him a blind seer who divulges what Oedipus considers falser prophecies:

Oedipus: “ ‘Do you think I do not know,

That you plotted to kill me, plotted to steal my throne?

Tell me, in God’s name: am I coward, a fool,

That you should dream you could accomplish this?

A fool who could not see your slippery game?

A coward, not to fight back when I saw it?’ ” (Sophocles 51).

Instead of calmly and rationally considering the situation, Oedipus selfishly pins the blame on Kreon, his own brother-in-law. He insults Kreon by slinging sinister and violent words at him, including “plotted”, “kill”, and “steal”. These nasty accusations show the audience the degree of outrage and emotional turmoil Oedipus is experiencing at that moment. His feelings are hurt and his reaction is immediate and childish. Oedipus retaliates without pausing to consider the consequences of his actions, and severs a close relationship with one of his most trusted family members. Kreon protests his innocence, but Oedipus is so hurt and insecure that he banishes Kreon. But, looking more closely at the hurtful words quoted above, in them is revealed Oedipus’ insecurities; he cannot help but fear that everyone might see him as a coward and a fool.

New York Times reporter Sarah Boxer clarifies this idea by explaining further. She states, “Oedipus is not a man to be pitied for his unconscious crimes and his guilt, but a man who never understood the real crimes in his own story” (Boxer 1). This is an interesting claim, considering that Oedipus seems so surprised each time a new discovery (regarding the murder) is made in the play. As it is revealed later, Oedipus demonstrates no remorse when he tells his wife he had killed several men on his way to another city, which suggests that he was not capable of remorse to begin with. This seems to be evidence of a pathological and dangerous personality emerging.

Having now lost Kreon, Oedipus continues in his unstable emotional state, as he searches for the murderer of King Laios. Having revealed his fear of being perceived as a weakling, Oedipus must compensate by proving his bravery and power to the people by actively seeking out the killer. Oedipus boasts to the people of his land, “Sick as you are, not one is sick as I. Each of you suffers alone, but my spirit groans for the city” (Sophocles 44). As people ask for the mighty king’s help in destroying the plague, Oedipus, unable to escape from his personal feelings, has to make the situation all about himself. Instead of focusing on the needs of his people, the king claims he is “sicker” than the afflicted, and “suffers more” than anyone else. How strange, but how selfishly human! The king, who lives in a palace in comfort, surrounded by the finest luxuries, happens to suffer more than anyone else in his city? Whilst Oedipus has food on the table to eat and a soft bed to sleep on, the people of his land die in the streets, and crops are too meager to feed them. This boast, of a kind of superiority of suffering, also inadvertently demonstrates to the audience the extent of Oedipus’s insecurity and, ironically, that he is, in a way, sicker – at least psychologically. This display of unconcern for his people’s sufferings makes the King come across as completely self-absorbed, because Oedipus could never truly help his citizens until he strips away his pride. It becomes apparent that the plague does not serve for him as a problem to be solved – rather it presents itself to the king as a chance to raise his status in the eyes of the people.

As a medical journal points out, this particular plague was taken very seriously in ancient Greek times. The journal states, “The opening of the drama, with the city of Thebes in the midst of plague has often been, historically, taken as a reference to the plague that devastated Athens in the opening years of the Peloponnesian War” (Kosoulis et al 1). The level of devastation this plague wrought on the Greek population only further demonstrates how little Oedipus cared about his subjects.

Although Oedipus seems all but oblivious to the plague attacking his subjects, he often uses his pride as a security blanket, as he clutches at any method of warding off self-doubt. This is best seen in the chorus’s opinion, “The tyrant is a child of Pride, who drinks from his great sickening cup of recklessness and vanity” (Sophocles 55). Pride is what Oedipus uses to excuse his overbearing behavior when he accuses Kreon of treason and the blind seer Teiresias of lying. Oedipus claims himself to be a ‘great King’ of many achievements, about which the audience is constantly reminded throughout the play. The conquering of the Sphinx is mentioned many times by citizens who seek to flatter him. The mere recalling of the event serves to support him when he feels insecure about the situation at hand, and about the people around him. Oedipus uses his achievements to ward off attacks on his character as if these accomplishments were enough to balance out the evil deeds he had brought about, or to hide his disturbed personality.

Although many of the wrongdoings done to the people of the city and King Laios seem to have been caused by King Oedipus, Dr. Jeffrey Rubin, having studied the psychology of the main character in depth, makes a surprising claim. He states, “Oedipus Rex begins with parental aggression and abandonment, not filial patricide or incestuous relations between a son and a mother” (Rubin 1). This claim suggests that Oedipus’s problems were initiated by his parents and not himself, therefore portraying Oedipus as a victim. If his parents had ignored the fated tale they had heard, Oedipus might not have turned out to be the murderer and incestuous person he became.

Whether it is personal insecurity, pride, or even the sheer ignorance of not knowing his own faults, Sophocles does an excellent task of painting the tragic hero as a figure the audience can recognize as universal. Oedipus Rex’s insecurities and fear of being seen as a coward in the face of his people, pushes him to the edge of ruin and sets up an unavoidable fate. Impressively written, the work leaves the audience with a bitter taste of what it means to fall disastrously from grace.

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Sophocles’ Antigone Play: Following the Heart Against the Authority Demands

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Sophocles presents us with a high standard of moral courage and character in his play Antigone. Among the many thematic questions raised, Sophocles pursues in depth the issue of whether it is best to obey the law or to follow one’s conscience. Antigone displays the strength to follow her conscience against the demands and threats of authority, and therefore she proves herself to be a truly admirable and exemplary heroine. Such a moral choice is one that could drive a less brave individual to madness.

Antigone is forced to choose between love and life in her situation in the opening of the play. Her two choices are clear: she can either disobey Creon and bury her brother Polyneices, or she can yield to authority and leave Polyneices unburied. Yet Antigone lets us know that in her mind, there is no choice to be made, for she knows what she will do. She asserts: “I will not prove false to [my brother] […] It is not for [Creon] to keep me from my own” (52-54). As she speaks to Ismene, we see that each sister represents either side of the debate and all the accompanying characteristics: Ismene is obedience, passivity, and subservience; Antigone is loyalty, honor, valor, and truth to one’s self. In the dialogue between the two sisters, we see that yielding to the law certainly has its advantages, such as the avoidance of trouble with Creon, patriotism toward the state, and the salvaging of Antigone’s own life. Yet for Antigone, these benefits are hardly worth consideration, because the motives for disobedience completely discount them. These reasons have their own rewards: family loyalty, sisterly love, mercy, truth to self, and personal as well as family honor. Thus, Antigone’s course of action calls for virtue that few people possess and even fewer are able to stand up for in the face of adversity.

Furthermore, Antigone’s resolve to do what she feels is right is unshakeable, even when she is surrounded by opposition. To begin with, as it has already been noted, we are presented with her sister Ismene as a foil for Antigone’s courage. Ismene’s weak effeminacy allows her to fulfill perfectly the stereotypical role and expectations for a woman in Creon’s society. She tells Antigone: “You ought to realize that we are only women, / not meant in nature to fight against men; / and that we are ruled, by those who are stronger, / to obedience in this and even more painful matters” (70-73). She does not want Antigone to get into trouble, which is both understandable and forgivable, but her cowardice makes her disgraceful and loathsome to Antigone and only confirms Antigone’s determination to be true to her conscience and her honor. Of course, Creon is the chief rival of Antigone. Creon is staunch in the belief of his own power and authority, as well as in his disrespect of women. He tells his son Haemon: “There is nothing worse/ than disobedience to authority./ It destroys cities, it demolishes homes;/ it breaks and routs one’s allies/ […] we cannot give victory to a woman./ If we must accept defeat, let it be from a man;/ we must not let people say that a woman beat us” (726-734). Therefore, Antigone clearly represents everything that Creon most greatly fears. He wishes for all people not only to obey him, but also to cower to his power. He tells his son it “is vile [to yield] to a woman” (808) and refers to women most brutally as “fields [to be] plough[ed] (627). From these characters’ attitudes toward Antigone, we are able to understand and appreciate her independence and moral courage. We can see the fear that underlies the words of Ismene and Creon, whose disapproval of Antigone’s decision and actions is motivated by their own personal intimidation at one so bold in love and integrity.

Creon makes clear that he alone has the power to distinguish right from wrong, merely because he is the public authority, the only one able to enforce his own whims. Yet what justifies his power? What gives him or any other such government or influence the right to impose its beliefs and wants on anyone else? We all have the power of free will; we all have the ability to distinguish good from evil. Antigone knows this, and she asserts: “Who knows/ if in that other world this is true piety? […] My nature is to join in love, not hate” (573-576). It is most important for Antigone to respect and honor those to whom she owes love and gratitude, whereas Creon is motivated by self interest. Haemon notes this, telling his father: “You want to talk but never to hear and listen” (821).

Works Cited

Sophocles. Antigone. Ed. David Greene and Richard Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1991.

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Guilt And Innocence As Illustrated By Sophocles In His Oedipus At Colonus

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Guilt and Innocence: A paradox in Oedipus at Colonus

A common theme throughout the Oedipus Cycle is that of guilt coinciding with innocence. In Oedipus at Colonus however in separate instances Oedipus claims to be innocent of his wrong doings as in his fight against Laius he acted in self-defense, and he also insists he was ignorant of his sins so he cannot be punished for committing them,” I bore most evil things, strangers! I bore them involuntarily, let the god know! None of these things was chosen by myself.” (521-23). However upon meeting Theseus, Oedipus refuses his assistance claiming that he is too impure for Theseus to touch him. Oedipus, like all people has the unfortunate fate of being damned for sins he did not choose to commit. Which causes a paradox in his mind where he know he is not in the wrong, but yet feels the societal shame of his ‘wrong doings’ and therefore knows that he is condemned by society and cannot let Theseus touch him as he will then also be refuting the societal norms that make Oedipus impure.

If we’re going by gods’ laws Oedipus has committed unspeakable acts of abomination in murdering his father, and marrying his mother. Although the gods’ take sister-wives it is a thing banned to mortals. Murder is seen as a terrible act even to the gods. In these ways Oedipus unknowingly sins against the gods. However at the end of Oedipus at Colonus it appears the gods have taken pity on Oedipus, as they make his final resting place a hallowed barrier for the city of Athens. In this way is he absolved of his godly wrongs, and is validated as being innocent by reason of ignorance.

By the world’s standards however Oedipus is not blameless. The sin against his father is twofold as it is murder, but also an act against his sire; a costly error in a patriarchal society. Although he was acting in self-defense society holds a stigma against the ac simply because someone’s life was ended which is a chief thing of importance. When confronted then with the affront of his incestuous marriage he also attempts to blame the city of Thebes, “To an evil marriage bed the city bound me—I who did not know–To a disaster that came from a marriage. CHORUS. With your mother, as I hear, Did you fill your infamous bed? OEDIPUS. Alas, it is death to hear these things [. . .].” (525-29). This last line Oedipus speaks tells us that it is like death to hear the truth of situation. As he knows it is too horrible of a thing to say; that one begot four children from his mother.

The paradox between ignorance, innocence, and guilt is a tumultuous theme in Oedipus at Colonus. It is a result of a man who in his mind is absolved of his crimes in the sight of gods, but can never be clean in the light of society.

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A Comparison of the Similarities Between Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus: a New Version by Ellen Mclaughlin, and Oedipus Rex by Gay H. Hammon

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Opening scenes of plays or any piece of performance work allows the audience to enter into the world seamlessly; the world of the play can be built through the dynamic between the actors and the audience and the exposition itself. In the original script of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, there is no opening exposition of a back story. At the time of its original productions, the audience would have known the story of Oedipus and how he and the city of Thebes came into the position of troublesome times. The opening dialogue is between Oedipus and the Priest; this gives the feeling of vulnerability for Oedipus as he laments about how he can save his people by engaging in a private conversation with the Priest. However, his version leaves a divide between the people and Oedipus, giving a more accurate description of the historical hierarchy but leaving a disconnect to the king and his people. In Oedipus: A New Version, the adapted script by Ellen McLaughlin, the play opens to an unidentifiable voice that states a riddle. The unknown voice threatening you to “Tell me or die. One by one. Tell me and die. One by one,” (McLaughlin, 73) followed by an ambiguous cry gives the eerie feeling leading into the rest of the opening scene where Oedipus speaks to the Chorus of their woes since the defeat of the Sphinx. The scene, in contrast to the original text, raises the stakes as the audience feels the impending doom of an omnipotent power before they describe the horrors of their current state to their king in an open setting. In Oedipus Rex, the adapted script by Gay H. Hammond, the opening is played as a multilayered prologue. The actors are less used as characters but as a unit signifying the gods to describe what has transpired.

“CHORUS(MES): A place where three roads meet.

ALL: A crossroads. [stomp or clap]

CHORUS(MES): There is a story that two men came to a crossroads all at once, so neither man could pass.

CHORUS(OED): And neither man would yield.

CHORUS(TEI): And one was young, and one was old, but both alike

ALL: Both alike

CHORUS(TEI): In arrogance and strength.” (Hammond, 6)

This is similar to the McLaughlin piece where the opening is met with an all-knowing narrator; however, the latter is less of a malicious voice and more of an indifferent, powerful voice. While the other two scripts allow the feeling of vulnerability and impending calamity to respectively shine through, Gay H Hammond’s script approaches the audience immersion without overwhelming the audience with the shock of a naked baby, or detached imagery of a shrine.

The major changes that affect the overall feeling of the respective scripts are the depictions of violence and death. In the original text, the deaths in the story were enacted off stage, which led to an actor coming on stage to describe the death to the audience. In contemporary adaptations, the stark reality of death can be realized on stage. In McLaughlin’s script, we see the death of Jocasta and the mutilation of Oedipus under the Chorus’ speech,

“It thinks it can be safe.

It thinks. It thinks.

It thinks it can be happy.

It thinks that something of it will last.

(Jocasta hangs herself, using the strips of the sheets as a rope.)

Listen to it muttering.

Telling stories in the dark.” (McLaughlin, 129-130)

By hearing the Chorus speak about Oedipus as a baby while the image of the baby reappears on stage, the realization of Jocasta creating her own noose gives the audience a jolting feeling of dread as they sit and listen as the Chorus imitates that could be going through Jocasta’s head in the process of her own suicide and eventually the voices of the gods. This gives a different dimension to the character of Jocasta rather than giving a single dimension death of a gender-restrictive script from the Ancient Greek. For the action of blinding Oedipus, we again see Oedipus taking the brooches and stabbing his eyes out under the continued lamentations of the Chorus in McLaughlin’s adaptation.

“And now.

(His back to the audience, Oedipus hold the brooches up.)

We wish we’d never seen you.

(HE plunges the brooches down into his eyes. Full blackout.)

God forgive us all.

(Once again he hold the brooches up.)

You gave us the light.

Now you plunge the world into darkness.” (McLaughlin, 130)

This lighting direction of literal darkness is a bold choice, but it seems to forced in Greek theatre. If keeping to the similar ideologies of Greek theatre, there wouldn’t be any fancy lights; the lighting would be natural lighting. The original text and the poetic adaptation does not need a literal punch in the face for the audience to understand the metaphorical blindness of Oedipus to the truth. For this, I prefer Hammond’s script where the audience does not directly see the blinding, similar to traditional Greek theatre:

“Don’t see this monster trapped within my flesh.

Put out the sun! No light should touch me, none

Should have to see what I’ve become, what I

Gods, no! What I have always been. [HE does to JOCASTA’S body and withdraws the brooches]

No light, no hope, put out the light of me

Let darkness eat me. [HE blinds himself]” (Hammond, 58)

The audience hears Oedipus and his mindset as he blinds himself after understanding the aftermath of his sin- the death of his mother and lover. It’s truthful to the story without taking the audience out of that world with wild symbolic technical cues.

As an actor, Hammond’s adaptation allows more of a challenge and artistic collaboration. The structure of the script keeps propelling the story further, cutting the unnecessary dramatic fluff. Staggered lines forces actors to constantly be listening to each other, and therefore engaging in the scene and the story they are telling. The Performance Studies tactics used in the Chorus gives a different layer to the storytelling by using vocal variety to insinuate the consciences of the main characters or the people of Thebes.

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The Athenian Tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Athenian tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles is very clear about the fate that awaits the king from the day he enters the world. The choices he made as a way to escape the prophecy about his life, did very little to make him avoid his tragic end. However, in my opinion, Oedipus was as much a hero as he was tragic. A hero is a person who is well-regarded for his great successes and talents, who shows great bravery in the face of adversity or danger. The essay below will explain the heroism in the king’s choices, behavior, and ultimate end.

All through his life, Oedipus is seen as a virtuous man and tries to do the right thing for his family and the people. He is endlessly pursued by the evil that Laius, his father had devised and in so doing, he attracts the very fate he is trying so much to avoid. In the inauguration act of the play, King Oedipus talks to his citizens in a concerned demeanor over the scourge. He is looked upon as a hero by his people since he brought down the curse of the Sphinx before. The only reason his commoners try to get relief from him is because he is a respected and morally upright man who loves his people. Sophocles portrays the king as a humble man who converses with his people on a regular basis. The fact that he had already addressed the plague complaint by sending Creon to the oracle, even before the petitioners arrived shows that he was genuinely concerned.

Thesecond reason that elevates Oedipus to the position of a hero is the fact that he was willing to deal with the murderer who was causing pollution in the city of Thebes.He persisted in his quest to uncover the truth of the matter despite pleas from Jocasta, his wife and mother, to stop. Upon realization and further confirmation that he is the one who murdered Laius, his father, and the half-brother to his daughters, he subjects himself to a far worse fate than death, life as a blind, poor beggar.

At the end of the play, ‘Oedipus Tyrannus,’ the king is begging his people to banish him. The desperation to be banished from Thebes elicits sympathy towards Oedipus. The fact remains that he was pre-destined to kill his dad and sleep with his own mother (Plumptre). He is impartial and just enough to proceed and sentence himself to a good penalty to his mistakes even though he is truly a casualty of circumstance. Seeing himself as the reason for the peoples’ plague, he begs to be exiled forever so his people can be free of the contamination once again. This sentence shows the fairness and the extent of the moral decency of the man. He is distraught at the realization that he, the highly regarded king in the society, performed all the atrocities causing the plague.

In conclusion, Oedipus is depicted as a strong, attentive and powerful leader who was merely a victim of fate. The truth is that he is human and bound to be at fault, whether regarding emotions such as anger and love or concerning his error in judgment. Even though Oedipus is a great man of the people, he has his faults too. For instance, his anger that leads him to kill Laius, the man who refused to give him way at the intersection, unbeknownst to him also his father. He is also very proud as seen in the way he dealt with Tiresias, the blind seer. He is also very distrusting and suspicious of everyone, even of his relatives like Creon.However, I believe that the choices he made after the mistakes are the defining moments of his character. Oedipus is indeed a tragic hero primarily because his story evokes pity and he is a victim of fate.

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Greek Catastrophe in the Play “Oedipus” by Sophocles

January 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Oedipus the King

There have been numerous inquiries regarding destiny and predetermination since time has started. Mankind dependably was worried about their predetermination versus the impacts of their own exercises. There still is a question lingering about, if fate controls the free? In the play Oedipus by Sophocles, this gives readers that Oedipus is becoming a violent and guilty, which gives him the name of a outlaw. In reality, his thoughts weren’t meant to devious at no point of time. Even though he killed his father and married his mother, the fate was closer than he thought.

In Oedipus the King it is made very clear by Sophocles that endeavoring to resist your destiny is silly and just outcomes in your destiny happening in any case.Oedipus is a drama for the simple fact, this was basically a love triangle story that ended wrong in the way possible. This play was not of surprise but of suspense because the reader knew what will happen next. Oedipus uncover the hidden fact about his whole life and his parents, where he was ignorant and we as the audience wasn’t.

The mystery is not what Oedipus has done but how he will realized what have he done was wrong. Also, this will show how he will react to the new information that he has received. The fable holds that the father of Oedipus, Laius learned from previous ages that his son will be his murderer. Laius had prince Oedipus at the time by his wife Jocasta, and Laius didn’t want the baby, so set the Oedipus out to die on Mount Cithaeron. This was a regular practice in the old world, where they leave baby out to die. The parents could get rid of the baby without feeling any guilt in their soul. Mankind can say that this led to the fate of Laius because he didn’t want his son. Oedipus was adopted by a couple that didn’t have a child and made him their son, which he thought that they were his birth parents.

Situations like this happens in modern day, where birth parents give their child up for adoption at an early and don’t think about how it will affect the child in the future. When the child is older enough to understand, their birth parents tries to come back into their life and now the child doesn’t want anything to do with the birth parents. Kids may never know the situation on why their parents gave them up for adoption. Oedipus was meeting his fate when plague became a major problem in the city. This plague kills majority of the city of Thebes. Oedipus can be seen as a typical 5th century Athenian, where he is optimistic, irritable and self-confident in his beliefs about religion, and a firm believer in the strength of human thinking.

Aristotle sees the story of Oedipus as a Greek catastrophes. This play has two plots that he thought were important to genre of drama. Aristotle says that Oedipus is a prime example of a man whose fall into bad luck is the solution not of terrible decisions or devious character, but many think it was a mistake and this led to the death of Oedipus. The story of Oedipus is a tragedy that led to his fate, where he was clueless. Egotism, pride, and visual deficiency give the imagery all through this story, which includes confronting the general facts of man.

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