Oedipus in search of a tragic flaw; classical sculpture
I. Oedipus and Athens - recap
a. tyrannis (380, 873ff.; 6th cent. tyrants and Athens’ “tyranny” over her allies
b. the mode of the plot: an Athenian legal investigation (cf. 1120ff.: pressuring the witness)
II. 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?
Anger? Was it road rage? How else should he have acted?
His defense in Oedipus at Colonus 991-4:
“Just answer me one thing:
If someone tried to kill you here and now,
You righteous gentleman, what would you do,
Inquire first if the stranger was your father?
Or would you not first try to defend yourself?"
Temper, temper: the scenes with Tiresias and Creon (300ff.);
should he handle this differently?
b. Does not take the Fifth and stop the investigation (advice of Jocasta) -
is that a flaw?
c. Tragedy of "fate"? Predestination (cf. Calvinism) vs. foreknowledge;
"the oracle made me do it" - or?
III. A contrarian view: just good theater - don't overinterpret
IV. Meaning and Moral
1. human heroism (cf. 1076ff., 1329ff., 1370ff., 1450ff., 1523ff.)
2. intellectual hamartia: Oedipus and the fifth century: "Man is the measure
of all things"
(Protagoras); intellect über
alles; blindness and insight
V. 5th cent. Sculpture
Phidias: Athena Parthenos, Athena Lemnia, Zeus at
Polykleitos: Doryphoros (Spear-Carrier); Diadoumenos (Bandana
modified Mar. 25, 2013