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CLAS 203 Study Guide - Final Guide: Fundamental Interaction, Hereditary Monarchy, Syntactic Ambiguity

Course Code
CLAS 203
Margaret Palczynski
Study Guide

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CLAS203 Lecture 26 Notes
The Founding of Thebes:
Two foundings: one local, one foreign
Mythologically, Thebes was found from the East; “Cadmus” means from the East
Foreign founding:
o Agenor (Tyre) sends his sons to find their sister, Europa
o Europa, Cadmus seeks help from Oracle, oracle tells him to follow the cow until it lies
down and to found a city at that place
o Oracle
o Dragon combat to sacrifice cow, Cadmus needs water, sends his companions to get
water from spring only to find it was guarded by a dragon as the spring was sacred to
Ares; dragon kills companion so Cadmus goes to fetch water himself, and slays the
dragon. Cadmus takes its teeth guided by Athena and keeps half of them; half goes to
o Spartoi best line of men of Thebans, came from dragon’s tooth resurrecting men,
fighting each until 5 remain who becomes Cadmus’ companions
Local founding
o Chthonius (inner part of city), Nicteus, Niteis, Antiope
o Zethus and Amphion: second founding but leave no direct
o blend of stories
Near Eastern saga and local folklore may have
combined stories together
Historical basis?
o Polydorus does not just come to take over Thebes. During
the transition, a local line takes over, Chtonius Nicteus
Nicteis & Antiope Zethus (shepard and hunter) &
Amphion (music builds wall of Thebes with music)
o Polydorus comes in now and marries Nicteis and has Labdacus
The House of Labdacus:
o Exile: Pelops (King of Elis)
o Contravenes the traditions of hospitality, rapes son of Pelops, Chrysippus
o Cursed works its way through generations

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o Returns to Thebes and oracles (oracle tells Laius his son will kill him)
o Marriage to Jocasta (descendent of the noble Thebans) makes Laius drunk and has sex with
him because Laius refuses to sleep with her due to oracle
o Rules and reigns Thebes
o Exposing of Oedipus ‘swellfoot’ on Mt. Cithaeron
o Polybus, Merope (King and Queen) of Corinth
Thebes: arrival of Sphinx (Typhoeus) due to curse
o Thebans are scared and cannot do anything
o Sphinx asks riddle, if solved, Sphinx will kill herself
o Laius goes to Delphi
o Creon as regent
Oedipus at Corinth
o Keeps hearing rumours that he isn’t the true son of Polybus and Merope; asks them and they
refuse to tell him the truth
o Seeking the truth at Delphi: the prophecy says he will kill his father and marry his mother.
Hearing the prophecy, Oedipus runs away from Corinth (thinking Polybus and Merope were the
parents from the oracle); goes to Thebes to avoid the prophecy
o Murder on the road to Thebes, sees a rich man in a chariot coming towards him, whips Oedipus
for being in the way, Oedipus kills the man, then proceeds to Thebes
o Arrival at Thebes: finds out the king has gone missing, Sphinx continues to ravage and kill
Thebans, Creon offers the hand of Jocasta and the kingship to whomever can defeat the Sphinx.
Oedipus decides to go for the challenge
o Solving of the riddle, Sphinx kills herself, and gets the rewards
o Marriage to Jocasta: has Antigone, Ismene, Eteocles, Polynices
o Ruler of Thebes
Lecture 27:
Oedipus’ fate
o Homer: marries Epicasta Homer’s story of Oedipus does not have him poking his eyes out,
much different version
o Sophocles: The Theban Cycle (not a trilogy)
As Written
Oedipus Tyrannos (Oedipus the King)
Antigone (early)
Oedipus at Colonus
Oedipus Tyrannos (middle)
Oedipus at Colonus (late)
Oedipus Tyrannos (Tyrannos means ruler)
o Starts the story as Oedipus already king and has been ruling Thebes for a while with his children
born already
o Plague hits Thebes sent by gods (sign of pollution due to blood guilt that has not been atoned
for/punished), Oedipus sends Creon to see the oracle; says the murdered of King Laius has not
gone unpunished
o Oedipus says that whoever is the murderer will go in exile
o Oedipus curses murderer of Laius
o Tiresias Oedipus asks the blind prophet who the murder of Laius is. Tiresias tells Oedipus not to
ask, that he doesn’t want to know. Oedipus accuses Tiresias and Creon plotting against him;
Tiresias gets angry enough and tells him that Oedipus is the murderer of Laius
o Shepherd from Corinth
Death of Polybus
Origins of Oedipus
o The Theban shepherd
o Jocasta’s suicide
o Anagnorismos “recognition”
o Peripeteia “reversal”

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CLAS203 Lecture 27 Notes
Oedipus Tyrannos (Tyrannos means ruler)
o Shepherd from Corinth
Death of Polybus
Origins of Oedipus
o The Theban shepherd
o Jocasta’s suicide
o Anagnorismos “recognition of the tragic hero that they are in the wrong
o Peripeteia “reversal of the tragic hero everything goes downhill
Oedipus at Colonus
o Oedipus and Antigone at large in a village of Colonus sitting on a stone
o Approached by a villager who tells them to leave as they are sitting on the Grove of Erinyes at
Colonus, Oedipus recognizes the prophecy that he would die at the place sacred to the Furies for
which he’ll be a blessing to the land
o Villagers find out his identity and is horrified to find out that he is the son of Laius. Wants him to
leave. Oedipus asks Theseus to come and villagers wait for the judgment of their king
o Arrival of Ismene: the oracle heard by both sons that where Oedipus lies will determine the
outcome of the conflict
o Creon approaches to bury him at the boarder of Thebes (Thebes for Eteocles), Polynices
gathering support from the Argives to attack the city
o Oedipus curses his sons, pledges alliance with neither of his sons but to the people of Colonus,
who have treated him well. Ismene volunteers to perform appeasing tasks to appease the
villagers for trespassing the holy ground of the Furies
o Oedipus offers his gift to Theseus and the people of Colonus. Creon arrives, says he already
captured Ismene and orders his men to capture Antigone. Theseus comes and overpower Creon
and gets back Antigone and Ismene
o Polynices arrives (after being banished from Thebes) and speaks to Oedipus (through Antigone’s
persuasion), Polynices asks for his father to relent and help him win back Thebes. Oedipus says
the curse will have Polynices and his brother, Eteocles, kill each other. Antigone tries to tell
Polynices not to attack Thebes but he doesn’t leave, then making an exit.
o Rescued by Theseus
o Final fate of Oedipus: asks Theseus to look after his daughters, only Theseus could know his
burying grounds and pass it on to his heirs. In a flash of light, Theseus is gone. Antigone leaves to
Thebes, hoping to stop the Seven Against Thebes from marching
Seven Against Thebes (Aeschylus)
o Eteocles (army of Thebes and supporters), Polynices (army of Argive)
o Argos: Adrastus (king of Argos): solved dispute between Tydeus and Polynices by offering his
daughters due to an oracle made that man who carried a shield with a bore (Tydeus) and one of
a lion (Polynices). Prepares for war against Thebes but Amphiaraus foretold that those who went
to war would not return
Tydeus (fugitive of Calydon) wounded by Melanippus
Eriphyle, Amphiaraus
Capaneus, Hipomedon, Parthenopaeus
o Oracles: sacrifice of Menoecius when was told by Teirsias to allow the Thebans to conquer.
Menoecius sacrifices himself outside the gates of Thebes
o Deaths: Capaneus
o Tydeus vs. Melanippus: Melanippus wounds Tydeus and was killed by Amphiaraus. Tydeus eats
Melanippus’ brains; Athena, on her way to Tydeus to give him the gift of immortality, decides to
revoke his gift, leaving him to die
o Flight of Adrastus (Arion)
o Polynices vs. Eteocles kills each other
o Creon’s decree
o ‘Burial’ of Polynices’ body
o Antigone vs. Creon
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