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Lecture

Sophocles Oedipus the King

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Department
Classics
Course
CLA232H1
Professor
Victoria Wohl
Semester
Winter

Description
January 18 , 2012  CLA232  Prophecy and the Oracle o like the catholic pope, makes all the decisions o People would ask the oracle civic questions about going to war and such o Delphi, Pythia, Tieresias, Seer o The Pythia was a girl who’d go into a trance—sat on a tripod, a decorated stool with three legs, priestess translated while Pythia spoke gibberish  Scholars have tried to figure out what was behind the trance o Delphi was in mountains, people suggested a gas was released, trance was due to affects of drugs o Geologists looked at fumes and eliminated this possibility o Loral leaf was thought a psychedelic drug, scientist proved that it was not o The Pythia was usually an illiterate young girl from a village, priests chose a random girl convinced her she could see the future and had all the answers and were holy, priests received money for prophecies and had all power in decision making o Greeks absolutely believed and were behind the tradition of prophecy at Delphi  Prophecies ambiguous enough to be misinterpreted when false o Example a prophecy may read “if you go to war the empire will fall”—king read this as the opponents empire would fall and he’d prevail so he went to war. o when he went to war realized it was his own side that was destined to lose and he lost his empire o Limitations to prophecies, lots of room to be misinterpreted Oedipus the King  Gnothi Seauton—Know Thy Self, foundation of the tragedy  Its a detective story with a series of questions to be unsolved  Oedipus is trying to solve the plague  Oedipus is a problem solver, determined  Before Oedipus became king he was an outsider, Thebes was tormented by a sphinx that posed a riddle for everyone, and if you got it wrong you were murdered  Oedipus thought he was exceptional at solving riddles—oeda means “I know”  Oedipus sends his brother in law Kreon to Delphi to ask oracle about the issue of the plague  The oracle answered that the last king was murdered and has been left unpunished, which is polluting the land  He has to answer the question, who murdered king Laius  Tieresias seer—typically disbelieved because hes blind o Cannot see literally but figuratively o Eyes in his mind  Tieresias tell Oedipus: o You are the murderer, you with eyes do not see the truth, you do not know who you are, who your parents are, where you’re from, you are blind o The question of who is Oedipus begins to unfold  Laius and Jocosta were parents, and when they had the child he was fated to kill his father and sleep with his mother, so they gave their baby to a Sheppard to take to the mountain  Shepherd takes pity on him and gives him to another Shepherd who gives him to his master Polybus and wife Merope—king and queen of Corinth  At a party Oedipus is told he’s a bastard, goes to Delphi and asks if this is true, answers that he’d fated to kill his father and sleep with his mother  He runs away to avoid the prop
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