Introduction to the Ancient World: Greece

Lecture 17

Oedipus: tragic flaw, fate/predestination; free will/foreknowledge
revisited at Colonus

I. Issues and debate cont'd from Lect. 16

In search of the “tragic flaw” (hamartia): see questions

a. end-of-play truism 1522-30: things often don't go as planned;
Sophocles' gods = forces and circumstances beyond our control
b. does Oedipus have any fault that trips him up? If so, is it a major flaw?
Or is it a small misstep that, however, has outsized consequences?

II. Oedipus at Colonus

Detailed analysis: Oedipus' departure and reception by the gods (1518-1666)

1592: echo of crossroads
good cata-strophes: the blind man leading others (cf. 1518ff., 1548-9, 1589)
his new dimensions: spirituality and loving emotions; 1615-18 in another translation:

" I know it was hard, my children. -- And yet one word
makes all these difficulties disappear:
that word is love. You never shall have more
from any man than you have had from me."
: ' (

Summary (1565-66):
"Because his sufferings were great, unmerited and untold,
let some just god relieve him from distress!"

Gods not personal, but they call him home (1624-8)

III. Relation to the earlier play; click here 

III. Athens again 

A. Theseus as the embodiment of Athenian noble values (551ff., 885ff.)
B. the choral ode about Colonus: olive, Athena, Poseidon (668ff.)
C. endurance (1225ff.)


modified Mar. 20, 2014