Oedipus study guide
Terms in this set (94)
What is significant about the fact that the first line of the play is a question?
creates a dismal mood, the questioning also prepares us for a play of mystery
How does Oedipus choose the spokesman of the group of supplicants?
He chooses the oldest person
What is your first impression of oedipus?
He is arrogant
What problem is afflicting Thebes at the time?
A strange plague is causing sickness and suffering crops, herds and unborn children are dying
What is the House of Cadmus?
Original name of the city of Thebes (founded by Cadmus)
How does the Priest the supplicants view Oedipus? How does this begin to establish Oedipus as an Aristotelian tragic hero?
Priest says they don't view Oedipus as a God, but as the primary of men. This holds with Aristotle's view that a tragic hero had to be a god, demi-god or hero
In case we didnt already know it, what exposition does the Priest provide in this scene?
Priest reminds the audience that Oedipus is the hero who solved the riddle of the sphinx and free the city of Theebes from its bondage
Why do the supplicants believe that Oedipus will be able to find a solution to the famine?
Bc he had no human help when he solved the riddle of the sphinx so he must of had divine help. They hope he consuts his divine aides and find the cause of the famine
Why does Oedipus claim he suffers even more than supplicants?
He says each supplicant suffers only for himself individually but he suffers for the individual subject, his subjects generally and for himself
What impression do we get from Oedipus based on his language?
He is very proud and pomous
What action has Oedipus taken to find an answer to the city's problem?
Sent Creon to the oracle at Delphi to find out what could be said or done to save the city
What is oedipus and Creon's relationship?
Creon is Oedipus' brother in law-the brother of Queen Jocasta
What is foreshadowed by Oedipus' promise to the Priest?
Oedipus promises he will do whatever the oracle commands. This foreshadows he probably will be commanded to do extremely unpleasant of even impossible task to end the famine
Why does the Priest suspect Creon brings good news?
Bc he is wearing a crown made from a Laurel, the tree of Apollo, and believes he would not do so if he brought bad news
When Creon arrives from Delphi what does Oedipus insist that he do? What does this indicate about his character?
Creon wants to speak in private about the Oracle but Oedipus insists everyone should hear. It shows he loves his subjects but also a thoughtless, impetuous streak
Why do you suppose creon wants to talk in oedipus in private?
Creon knows that his sister Jocasta's son was destined to murder his father. The Father (Lauis) has been murdered and he probably wants to protect his family
What does Creon report from the Oracle?
The murderer of Lauis has not been found. He is in Thebes and is the direct cause of the plague.The killer must be exiled or murdered to end the plague
What is Oedipus' reaction to Creon's information?
He asks questions about Lauis' murder to find more info about it to help find the murderer and purge the city
Explain the dramatic irony in Oedipus' interrogation of Creon
The audience knows the story, that Oedipus is Lauis' killer
What is ironic about the one survivor's testimony?
The one survivor has lied all these years, claiming that Lauis was beset by robbers?
What theory does Oedipus immediately develop about Lauis' death?
That the murderer was part of a plot assassinate the king
Why did the citizens of Thebes not investiage Lauis' murder at the time it occurred?
They were to preoccupied with the Sphinx which was tormenting the city
What does Oedipus promise to do? Why, according to OEdipus, must his resolution be strong?
To avenge the murder of Lauis. He believes it is his duty as king to save his people and the murderer might even hurt him
Why does the Chorus appear at this point in the play?
THe conflict has been introduced and the plot set in motion. Now is an appropriate time to pause, reflect and evaluate
What voices does the Chorus represent?
The voice of the Theban commoners, praying for relief from their family
Give details of how the Chorus describes the city to the gods.
They tell the Gods that their crops arent growing, their children are stillborn and many people are dying. The dead are lying on the ground and there are few others left to mourn them.
What does Ares represent to the Chorus? What various things do they wish for him?
They Plague itself. They wish Ares blown out of the citry all the way to the oceans and also ask Zeus to strike him with thunderbolts.
What is ironic about the curse Oedipus places on the murderer of Lauis?
He is placing the curse on himself
In Oedipus' long speech beginning "Ye pray; 'tis well, but would ye hear my words." What is tone?
He is confident (almost arrogant) in his power to give his people relief from the plague. He is responding to what the people have just asked the gods to solve
Why does Oedipus insist that he will seek out and avenge Lauis' murderer?
Laius and Jocasta had no children so oedipus will take on this revenge as if Lauis were his own father
In this speech, Oedipus refers to Lauis' descendants as "ill-fated" but to his own good fortune in obtaining Lauis' throne as driven by "chance" Explain the difference between these two concepts and why OEdipus might choose to characterize these events in different ways.
Ill fated seems to refer to a predetermined destiny to have no children, which Lauis could not escape or control. "chance" syggest Oedipus ascension to the one was not predtermined or inescapable, but a random occurance bc oedipus is attempting to escape his fate as told in prophecy and feels his succeeding, his life is viewed as governed by chace and by others as fated
Structurally, why is it appropriate for the Chorus to appear now?
To mark the beginning of the rising of action and to build suspense
Once again, in whose voice does the chorus speak?
The Theban commoner
Why is it significant that it was Creon whom Oedipus sent to the Oracle and now it is Creon whom Oedipus has sent to get Tiresias?
On some level, Creon must suspect the Truth about Oedipus and Oedipus is unwittingly using him as a tool for this truth to be revealed to him
Explain what Tiresias means by his first statement to Oedipus: "How terrible to know when it dodes not help the knower."
He means that it is terrible for him to know the truth when this knowledge will not help Oedipus. His knowledge will have a devastating effect on the king
Why does Tiresias at first seem to refuse to help Oedipus?
He knows that Oedipus is the very culprit he seeks. He's trying to protect Oedipus
WHat terrible thing does Oedipus accuse Tiresias of doing?
of being a part of the plot to murder the king
Goaded into anger by Oedipus, what does Tiresias finally tell him?
That Oedipus killed Lauis and it the "pollution" of Thebes. He tells the king that oedipus has "lived" in hideous shame with those most dear to you
The truth revealed to Oedipus, what does Tiresias predict for him?
The Oedipus will soon call himself blind
What is Oedipus' reaction to Tiresias' revelations? Of what does he accuse Tiresias?
Oedipus is enraged; he can't accept what he heard. He accuses Tiresias of envy and conspiracy with Creon to gain Oedipus' power and throne
How does Oedipus try to discredit Tiresias?
He asks if Tiresias is such a gifted seer, why was he unable to solve the riddle of the sphinx
How does the Chorus serve as the "conscience" of the play?
Interrupts argument to remind Oedipus that he should be working to satify the oracle's command to avenge Lauis' death, not being angry
In what ways in Oedipus blind according to Tiresias?
To his true situation: He doesn't know who he lives with and what evil he has committed
What prophecy for Oedipus does he reiterate?
Oedipus will be Physically blind
How is Tiresias' response to being ordered to leave comic and ironic? What traits of Oedipus does this emphasize?
Because he says he wouldn't comeback is he was asked too. Impetuousness and stubbornness
What does Tiresias mean when he predicts, "This very day will sire you and destroy you"?
Oedipus will learn who he really is and the knowledge will destroy him
Why does Tiresias say that Oedipus, of all people should understand his riddles?
He's known as a great riddle solver bc he discovered the riddle of the sphinx
Whom does the Chorus believe, Oedipus or Tiresias? Why?
Oedipus because he saved them by solving the riddle
What arguments does Creon use to defend himself?
He says he has 1/3 of the power and why would he use his power to be a tyrant because he is happy with what he has
Explain the irony of Oedipus calling himself wise
he knows the least of everyone
Why would the Chorus asset that no one is better able to end the feud between Oedipus and Creon than Jocasta
because she's related to both
In what way does Creon's behavior contrast with Oedipus?
Creon is calm and reasonable
Oedipus is angry and unreasonable
Why does Jocasta believe Oedipus and Creon should be ashamed of themselves?
because they're discussing a private matter in the public
What does Creon say that persuades Jocasta to urge Oedipus to believe him?
He takes an oath and Jocata say to respect that
At this point, what appears to be Oedipus' HAMARTIA?
In his stubbornness and wrath, he will not listen to men who are respected for their integrity
For whose sake does Oedipus finally free Creon?
***What is unusual about Jocasta's initial reaction when Oedipus reveals the accusation against him?
She's not surprised nor indignant. She wants to know whether Creon is accusing him or got the knowledge from someone else
What is Jocasta's opinion of soothsayers? On what does she base this opinion?
She has no faith in them because they are human agents of the gods. Her proof is that ministers of Apollo once said Lauis would be killed by his own son. Lauis however, was killed by strangers long after he had left his son to die on a mountainside
WHat is significant about Jocasta's account of Lauis' prophesy and death?
The place of Lauis' murder-the junction of 3 roads-sparks Oedipus' interest. Probably he is connecting Lauis' murder spot with where he killed stranger
After questioning Jocasta about the details of Lauis' death, what does Oedipus suspect? Why is this a significant moment in the play?
He suspect he's guilty. He has seriously denied it until this point
Why does Sophocles use interrogation as a mean of exposition rather than show the scenes of Lauis' death and Oedipus' encounter with him?
unity of time
What happened to the servant who survived the attack on Lauis?
He asked to be sent as a shephard
What does Oedipus relate about his past to explain his fears?
A drunken man told him that his parents in Corinth were not really his parents. Although his parents denied this, OEdipus was suspicious and went to the shrine at Delphi. There the god told him that he would murder his father, marry his mother, and have children with her. After hearing the dreadful prophecy, Oedipus fled corinth to avoid this evil. Before he arrived at Thebes, he did kill men where the 3 highways came together, At this point, Oedipus fears that one of the men was Lauis
Why did Oedipus kill the men at the crossroadS?
He was angry bc they pushed him off the road
What character trait does Oedipus' killing of Lauis reinforce? What will probably prove to be this trait's dramatic significance?
Oedipus is impetuous and quick to anger and this trait will be his tagic flaw
What is ironically similar about the reasons Lauis attempted to kill his child, and Oedipus fled Corinth? What does each action suggest about fate and free will?
Both were attempting to prevent a terrible prophecy from coming true, Each prophecy involved the murder of a father by his son. Both Lauis' and Oedipus' behavior demonstrates that each believed he could use his free will to escape his fate
How will Oedipus determine whether he was the man who killed Lauis?
He will send for the one survivor who was there
What acts of hubris do Oedipus and Jocasta commit
The both admit to disbelief in the prophecy and actually mock the signs by which prophets make their predictions
What concerns does the Chorus have about the current state of religious belief?
People are losing faith in gods, failing to honor them properly and ignoring the prophecy
Why is Jocasta pleased at the new of the Polybus' death?
In Oedipus' father is daed, and Oedipus did not kill him, then the prophecy was false and seers are discredited
How does Oedipus respond to the news of his father's death
Happy (same reason as jocasta)
What info does the messenger give Oedipus to put an end to his dread of the Oracle? How does theis man know the truth?
The messenger explains that Oedipus was not the natural son of Polybus and Merope. A shephard found Oedipus who had been left to die with a skewer that piinned his feet together. This shepherd, one of Lauis' men gave the baby to the messenger, who in turn gave it to the childless Polybus
What is the meaning of Oedipus' name? Why is this significant
swollen feet-he had swollen feet
Why is oedipus excited by the messenger's information? Whom does he insist on questioning?
Excited to find out his parents; shephard
How does the messenger's info change the central question in the play?
Up until this point, the central question in the play has been who killed Lauis, but now the central question has shifted to who Oedipus' parents are
What does Jocasta fear Oedipus will learn if he continues to seek the truth of his parentage?
THat he is the son of Jocasta and Lauis and indeed killed Lauis
What does Oedipus mean when he declares himself the "child of Chance?" Why is this an example of dramatic irony?
His life has been ruled by chance and fortune. Oedipus believes he has experienced good fortune because he was an abandoned child who has since become a king. This is ironic because Oedipus' life has not been ruled by good fortune, but by cruel fate
To heighten the suspense and create a distraction before the final climax, the Greek playwrights often included brief songs. What false hope is the Chorus creating?
They're guessing Oedipus's origin was glorious-that he may be the son of the god
Why is the shepherd so reluctant to identify Oedipus as the child he gave to the messenger?
To acknowledge that Oedipus was that child would be to admit that he did not follow Lauis' instuctions
What is the climax of this play?
When OEdipus finds out that Lauis and Jocasta are his parents
What behaviors has Sophocles presented as evil and dreadful?
Incest, murder of a parent, and lack of faith in dive will as evils to be avioded
During the dialogue between Oedipus and the shepherd, what happens to their lines as they get closer and cloer to the revelation of the truth
They get short and brief
What is the contrast between Anistrophe 1 and Strophe 2?
Explain the Chorus' statement, "All-seeing time discovered you unwilling." Why is this concept central to the play?
HE tries to escape from fate, but it finds him anyway. Human free will is limited
How do you feel about Oedipus
pride and quick tempered
Why does Sophocles have a messenger describe the scene of Jocasta's suicide and OEdipus' disfigurement instead of portraying it
bc violence always occurred off stage
What does the servant report is OEdipus' explaination for his self-muliation?
He says as Oedipus gouges his eyes out he says he should be able to see the evil he created
Oedipus believes the gods hate him more than any other man. Does anything justify their hatred? wHy do you think OEdipus has been chosen to live out such a horrible fate.
Little justifies the hatred. He is cursed from birth because of his father's misdeed
How does this speak to the central issue of th eplay?
How much control deo we have over our lives
Why must Oedipus seek Creon's permission to go into exile?
Creon rules jointly with Oedipus and Jocasta and now he's the only one left. As king, only Creon has the power to order Oedipus into exile. He does not order it yet bc he believes he should consult with the gods via the oracles to learn what course of action to take
Besides exile, what else does Oedipus ask of Creon?
He wants Jocasta to have a proper burial and to shelter his daughters
Why is oedipus concerned about his daughters' futures and not his sons?
His sons are men. As women they might not marry because he has polluted their family
How does creon treat Oedipus in this final section?
According to the Chorus, when is the only appropriate time to call a man blessed?
at his death