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).
The Greek Sophoclean tragedy Oedipus Rex is based on a myth from the Homeric epic Odysseus. With his tragic flaw the protagonist, Oedipus, lives out the main episodes of the Homeric myth.
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 the origin of Oedipus Rex is at odds with that of Immanuel Velikovsky, who describes his findings in his book, Oedipus and Akhnaton: Myth and History:
The earliest reference to the Oedipus legend is found in Homer’s Odyssey. The epic was most probably put into writing early in the seventh century before the present era. . . . “And I saw the mother of Oedipodes, fair Epicste, who wrought a monstrous deed in ignorance of mind in that she wedded her own son, and he, when he had slain his own father, wedded her, and straightwa...
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... Essays, 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.
Van Nortwick, Thomas. Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.
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