Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Greek Play: Actors wore stylized masks (personas) Ancient Greek tragedies
were divided in to five parts:
-Prologue: an actor gave background information
-Parados: chorus comments on the events presented in the prologue
-Episodes: characters speak to each other; develop central conflict
-Stasimon: chorus commentary
-Exodos: last scene of the play
The chorus is a group of men (led by Choragos) who commented on the
In Oedipus Rex the chorus are wealthy men of Thebes, they are the voice of
the city and advisors of the King. They also progress the drama of the play.
In the first ode the chorus depicts the horror of the plague.
The chorus concludes the play with “Here is the truth of each man’s life: we
must wait, and see his end, scrutinize his dying and refuse to call him happy
till he has crossed the border of his life without pain.”
Greek plays used no scenery, thus the chorus establishes the setting of the
play. Also, Oedipus consults with the chorus but at the end of the play he
says, “don’t tell me that, or advise me any more!”
This play is not about the tragic flaw. It stresses the idea that we do not
know who we are; it is a play of human beings. It raises questions of
destiny, rather than fate controlling our lives and asks us what is the balance
of our freedom.
Destiny and Blindness vs. Sight
-Tiresias is blind but he knows the truth. He does not want to tell it at first
but Oedipus insists, as Tiresias says “You bear your burdens, I’ll bear mine.
It’s better that way”
-Does Oedipus declare his own fate? - “Let that man drag out his life in
agony, step by painful step” (unintentionally he is talking about himself;
Oedipus is both the detective AND the criminal)