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English 112 (English Composition II)

Oedipus the Wreck

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Archive of a Forum on Oedipus Rex

Rationale for the Cover Photo: Although Oedipus was held up by Aristotle as the architypal tragic hero, are the gods laughing at him or mourning his family for violating the taboos of family life--a curse that supposedly originated with his grandfather, Labdacus?

Oedipus of Thebes is a legend, possibly derived from a story that originated about the Thebes of ancient Egypt. The Greek version dramatized by Sophocles for an audience in Athens contains many elements of folk myth.  The story would have been as familiar to the audience as the story of Jesus' life and passion is to Christians, so suspense comes not from wondering what will happen but from seeing the human reactions of characters to the events in their lives.

The rather flippant title of this site implies that Oedipus earned the very reputation he fled when he left Corinth & Delphi behind.  Watching Oedipus destroy himself in this way is "like watching a train wreck"; we feel dread, we feel for him, but we know his ruin is inevitable.

Rationale for the Online Version Selected for the Sphinx Link: The text of this play is online at several locations. I've chosen the Perseus Click the sphinx photo to go to the online play script.Project version at Tufts University because it is accompanied by several kinds of background information. The glossary at that site contains citations to translations of ancient works that mention the characters and the gods in the play.  Why use the sphinx to represent this play?   The answer to the riddle of the sphinx, which brought Oedipus to the throne (and queen) of Thebes, was not just "man" but one particular man who acted out that riddle during his lifetime--old "swollen foot" himself.

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logotest.gif (2025 bytes) This site was developed by Professor Eric Hibbison of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia, under a Courseware Grant from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) in Fall, 1997, and renovated under a VCCS Commonwealth Course grant in 2003 with the addition of the archive for the 1997-2003 forum on Oedipus the King.  If you have comments or suggestions about this site, email them to Prof. Hibbison at ehibbison@jsr.vccs.edu jsrlogo.gif (7866 bytes)