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The Oedipus Oracle May 10, 2017

Posted by anagasto in art, poetry.
4 comments

Greece, the Acropolis under a GNU license at http://en.wikivisual.com/index.php/Acropolis

The Greek gods were not venerated as models of behaviour or wisdom.
Maybe the Greeks imagined them more as colleagues.
These gods had fights with each other and also with prestigious humans such as Oedipus and his family.

There was simply a tragic destiny hanging over all the members of that family, and this play served to show that there was no way that Oedipus could have avoided meeting his fate.

The play is by Sophocles.

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The Oracle announces that  Oedipus will one day kill his father and marry his mother.
To escape  that destiny his mother arranges for the baby to die in the fields, but a shepherd picks him up.

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As he grows up he finds out about the oracle governing his destiny.
Oedipus runs away from those he considered his parents.
On the way however he kills a traveler in a fight.

This man was his father, but how could he know?
He reaches a city and marries its widowed queen, in fact his mother.

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A pest strikes the city.
The gods are angry.

Oedipus is now the King of Thebes and pronounces a solemn oath: he will discover the murderer at any cost.
The old blind seer Teiresias warns him that the truth is awful.
Oedipus ignores the warning.

Eventually he finds out that he himself is the murderer and that the woman he had married is his mother.

The ending is very cruel including self-mutilation and suicide.

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The Greek theater was outdoors, and most of the spectators watched the play from a great distance so that success depended entirely on diction.

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The actors wore masks ….

… and there was a chorus singing and dancing and reciting in verse what people would think and say about each incident of the play.
For instance they would say whether the decisions taken by the King was good or bad and whether the King must listen to the Seer, but often they are simply being cautious and side with the winner.

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There is a clearer and somewhat longer  summary at http://www.ralphmag.org/FL/oedipus.html

There is a free printable translation  by Ian Johnston  at  http://tinyurl.com/lwc8y5

Photo  Aspendos: released into public domain by NoFight at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aspendos_Turkey.JPG

Photos Epidaurus large version released into public domain by Mom at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Epidaurus_Theater.jpg
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