12_chapter 3 - CHAPTER III OEDIPUS OEDIPUS OEDIPUS THE KING I mean painful because every thing is irrevocable Because the past is irremediable

12_chapter 3 - CHAPTER III OEDIPUS OEDIPUS OEDIPUS THE...

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CHAPTER - III OEDIPUS ... OEDIPUS OEDIPUS THE KING I mean painful; because every thing is irrevocable Because the past is irremediable Because the future can be built upon the real past. T.S. Eliot - The Family Reunion . Oedipus the Kino is Sophocles s master piece and considered by many, the greatest of Greek tragedies. Aristotle referred to it continually in his Poetics , pointing out the features of an ideal tragic poem. Often since Aristotle s Poetics . Oedipus Tvrannus has been cited as an epitome of tragedy (Taplin 26). This play is one of the three plays of a group known as the Theban plays since they relate to destinies of the Theban family of Oedipus and his children. The other two plays are Antigone and Oedipus at Colonus . Although the three plays are connected by theme and subject, they do not form a trilogy in the usual sense of the term. Antigone is written first, although the events which are its subject, are later than those which take place in the other two plays. Oedipus the King , which is also called Oedipus Tvrannus or Oedipus Rex , is written
104 next. The date of the first production is probably about 425 B.C. The argument that the play is an extensive image of Athens under the leadership of Pericles, is strong enough to support the provisional dating of 429 B.C., just before Pericles death (Walton 119 ). Its tragic effect is seen in the contrast between the supreme will of the gods and the futile attempts of mankind to escape the evil. Friderick Nietzche, commenting on Oedipus in his masterpiece, The Birth of Tragedy, remarks: The most sorrowful figure of the Greek stage, the hapless Oedipus was understood by Sophocles as the noble man, who inspite of his wisdom was destined to error and misery, but nevertheless through his extraordinary sufferings ultimately exerted a magical wholesome influence on all around him which constitutes even after the death (qtd in Perspectives) . The central idea of this tragedy is that through suffering a man learns modesty before the gods. The play seems to have been written with the purpose of inculcating the doctrine of fate. Sophocles makes the people realise, by means of most elaborate and striking example, what the meaning of fate is. As in the case of Philoctetes, the fate of Oedipus is defined in strength and weakness. A man is destined to commit the most appalling
105 crimes; of all the precaution taken by his parents at his birth and those which he takes himself later on, only serve to bring about the fulfillment of the Oracles. He is drawn as man of contrasting qualities, all of which are pinpointed in the title of the play. Literally, the term turannos means no more than an unconstitutional ruler. The very same fate drags him at last to the discovery of those crimes of which he has been ignorant for so long. In consequence, he is plunged from the heights of a glorious and seemingly spotless life to the depths of infamy and horrible despair. The play s theme is the shattering of Oedipus s illusion through knowledge,

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