Mythology in Oedipus Rex

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Mythology in Oedipus Rex In “The Oedipus Legend” Bernard M. W. Knox talks of the advantages accruing to Sophocles as a user of myths in his dramas: The myths he used gave to his plays, without any effort on his part, some of those larger dimensions of authority which the modern dramatist must create out of nothing if his play is to be more than a passing entertainment. The myths had the authority of history, for myth is in one of its aspects the only history of an age that kept no records. . . . the myths served as typical patterns of the conduct of man and the manifestation of the gods (85). This essay seeks to explore the life of the flawed mythological person, Oedipus, as protagonist of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. E. T. Owen in “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus” comments on the mythological beginnings of Oedipus Rex: Professor Goodell says: “Given an old myth to be dramatized, Sophocles’ primary question was, ‘Just what sort of people were they, must they have been, who naturally did and suffered what the tales say they did and suffered?” That was his method of analysis (38). In his essay “Sophoclean Tragedy” Friedrich Nietzsche searches out the mythology in this drama, and finds that the story originates in Persia: Oedipus who murders his father and marries his mother. Oedipus who solves the riddle of the Sphinx! What does this mysterious trinity of fateful deeds tell us? An ancient legend, occurring in purest form among the Persians, relates that a wise magician is born only as a result of incest – which, looking back to Oedipus, riddle-solver, wooer of his mother, we cannot hesitate to explicate. . . .(17). Nietzsche’s tracing of th... ... middle of paper ... ...s, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966. E. T. Owen in “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993. “Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-mixed new?tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&part=0&id=SopOedi Van Nortwick, Thomas. Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.
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