The Theatre of Apollo: Divine Justice and Sophocles' Oedipus the King

The Theatre of Apollo: Divine Justice and Sophocles' Oedipus the King

Drew Griffith

Language: English

Pages: 158

ISBN: B01FEKNUUC

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Theatre of Apollo: Divine Justice and Sophocles' Oedipus the King

Drew Griffith

Language: English

Pages: 158

ISBN: B01FEKNUUC

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


By imaginatively recreating the play's original staging and debunking the interpretations of various critics, including Aristotle, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, E.R. Dodds, Frederick Ahl, and John Peradotto, Griffith shows that Apollo is a constant, powerful presence throughout the play. He contends that although we can sympathize with Oedipus because of his sufferings, he is still morally responsible for murdering his father and sleeping with his mother. Apollo is therefore not indifferent and his actions are not unjust. Griffith focuses on Apollo's commandment "know thyself," a commandment Oedipus belatedly and tragically fulfils, to stress both the need for self-understanding in the study of ancient literature and the usefulness of ancient literature in achieving self-understanding.

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message from God. When he has asked Apollo who his parents are, he receives the oracle that he is destined to kill his father and sleep with his mother. Oedipus is vexed, feeling that in giving him this oracle, Apollo has failed to answer his question and so dishonoured31 him (|T 6 oi(3oc;... cm^iov 8^ejt8|iajJ8v, 788-9) - as though it were the purpose of gods to honour mortals rather than vice versa. He does not go home to Corinth, where he thinks his parents are living (for he seems very

despite his disguise as a mortal, "for he easily recognized the traces of his feet and heels as he departed, for gods are easily recognized" (i/via yaQ ^leiomaOe Jto&cov f)6e xvrpckov/Qei' eyvoov amov-coc;- aQiyvcotoi &e 6eoi Jteo).36 There are many other examples of the beauty, softness, boldness, or holiness of a god's feet aiding in his recognition during an epiphany.37 Moreover, deities' shoes, like their other accoutrements, are beautiful, being made of silver or gold.38 Several famous

chief feature distinguishing a mortal's foot from a god's is its defectiveness or vulnerability: men have, as we say, feet of clay.42 This is occasionally true of the lowest stratum of society (e.g. II. 2.217, Lys. 24) but is more often and more strikingly true of many Greek heroes from Achilles to Lord Byron. Achilles is "swift-footed" (jto5aQ>tr|5 and Jt66ag dmijc;) in the Iliad, but that does not keep him from dying by a wound in his heel according to a story that entered literature late43 but

nonsense. Third, JtoXi) implies diffusion, while the psychological reading requires a word meaning "little by little" or perhaps "deeply," but hardly one meaning "widely." In addition to these negative arguments, there is to be found in Jebb's commentary a positive one to support the sociological reading, namely that it agrees with lines 775-7, which imply that the incident had altered Oedipus's popular repute. All these considerations allow us to conclude that OT 786 refers to the wide diffusion

falsche Begriffe menschlicher Sittlichkeit hineintragen," Wilamowitz 1899, 56 = 1931-37, vi.2io. no Dodds 1966, 43 = 1973, 71. in Ibid., 43 = 71. 112 Nativities: Find. Ol. 1.26-7,6-39-47,7-35~8, Nem. 1.35-47; inventors: Pind. Ol. 1.40-5, 7.42,13.17-22, Pyth. 2.32,4.217,12.6-8, and see Kleingunther 1933 and Thraede 1962; jtaQaxoutd JtQtotojtri^cov (Aesch. Ag. 223). See van Groningen 1953,122. 113 Aesch. Cho. 269-96,900-2, 953-6,1029-30, Eum. 798-9. 114 First at Ant. 773-80,1068-71; secondly at

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