The priest describes the plague that is destroying the city — a blight on the land causing famine and sickness. Oedipus expresses his sympathy and concern, and announces that he has already sent his brother-in-law Creon to the oracle in an effort to end the plague.
Its subject matter is normally drawn from mythology, except that for the ancient Greeks "mythology" was a kind of historical saga, often perfectly credible oral history, including stories about gods and other supernatural beings, handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth.
Because history raised to the sphere of legend only remembers milestones crucial to the life of the community, sometimes contemporary events viewed as critical for the survival of a people could provide the material for a tragedy.
The Persians of Aeschylus, describing the invasion of Athens by a huge Persian fleet in and its defeat in the naval battle of Salamis, is such a play.
However, tragedy is, strictly speaking, neither historical nor mythological; it is a poetic drama in the sense that poetry rises above the particulars of history and expresses human truths of a universal kind. This is achieved by a combination of heroic characters rising above the ordinary in terms of social status, moral qualities, and intensity of emotions and plots illustrating the impotence of humans in regard to divine powers.
Greek gods did not profess to love humanity, promised no salvation after death, and administered a harsh justice not only to sinners but also to unsuspecting innocents because of crimes perpetrated by their forebears.
Tragic characters often suffer and die for crimes they committed unwittingly, or because they were ordered to do so by a god something possible in the context of Greek polytheismor because they have to expiate an old sin, or fall under a family curse.
When they fully realize the inevitability of their destiny, they act with dignity in accordance with their principles and proceed to do what they believe is right, often precipitating their dreadful end. This is considered a "tragic death," although in modern languages the word tragedy is often used more loosely as a synonym for disaster —particularly a seemingly undeserved disaster that strikes unexpectedly powerful people and happy families.
According to Aristotle Poetics, ch. However, tragedy lost its Dionysiac associations very early, and only one of the preserved plays, indeed the very last tragedy of Euripides, Bacchae, has a Dionysiac content, namely the myth of resistance to the introduction of Dionysus's cult to Thebes, and the god's devastating revenge upon the city.
Dithyramb, too, gradually lost its religious connection to Dionysus and developed into choral poetry that drew its subjects from mythology like tragedy.
Dithyrambs were also regularly performed in the Dionysiac festivals. It is impossible to reconstruct with any certainty the stages of evolution from religious hymn to ritual enactment, and finally to a kind of secular play in which a great variety of myths were presented in dramatic form to a theatrical audience rather than a group of worshipers.
The critical stage in this line of development was the transition from ritual to theater.
Ritual must be repeated more or less exactly if it is to be a religious act. But once it metamorphoses into a playful act, its religious ties are loosened and a great potential for development in form and content becomes available to creative artists.
The first poet credited with the invention of tragedy was a minor, if semi-legendary, figure by the name of Thespis. His activity is dated to the s, although the introduction of tragic productions in the form of dramatic contests to the City Dionysia c.
Except for half a dozen titles of plays, nothing survives from his poetry. However, once the first sparks were struck tragedy evolved swiftly by embracing and building on earlier forms of poetry.
Choral lyric was a major poetic genre in Archaic Greece — B. It was incorporated into the new art of drama and retained not only its basic shape division into strophic pairs and complex metrical structuresbut even the Dorian dialect, invariably used by the Athenian poets in all choral parts of the plays.
The personal lyric of the Ionians in iambic meter, particularly the style in which Solon, Athens's own sixth-century poet and lawgiver, had written his emotionally charged accounts of self-justification and political advice, provided the model for the set-speeches of dramatic characters widely used in tragedy.To briefly recap on the background to the play: Shortly after Oedipus’ birth, his father, King Laius of Thebes, learned from an oracle that he, Laius, was doomed to perish by the hand of his own son, and so ordered his wife Jocasta to kill the infant.
However, neither she nor her servant could bring themselves to kill him and he was abandoned to elements. Oedipus King And Oedipus The King - With the city stricken with a plague, a king will try to save it by finding the murder of the previous king.
Oedipus is the protagonist and hero of this play and he's a king. Plot Analysis Oedipus is aware that there is a curse on Thebes and has Creon gather insight into how to lift it These are the circumstances at the beginning of the play. In this widely praised book, an eminent classicist examines Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus in the context of fifth-century B.C.
Athens. In attempting to discover what the play meant to Sophocles' contemporaries—and in particular in disentangling Sophocles' ideas from Freud's psychoanalytical interpretations—Bernard Knox casts fresh light on its timeless and universal nature.
Many students get off topic when they discuss Oedipus' fate using events that happen before the play begins. This leads to simple determinism and fatalism, not to mention mere plot summary. Oedipus the King unfolds as a murder mystery, a political thriller, and a psychological whodunit.
Throughout this mythic story of patricide and incest, Sophocles emphasizes the irony of a man determined to track down, expose, and punish an .