What is Odipus' fate

Oedipus of Sophocles: Fight against a predetermined fate

How does the drama start?

The eponymous hero of Sophocles' "King Oedipus" (before 425 BC) turns to the oracle of Apollo in Delphi to free Thebes from an epidemic. It promises salvation if the murderer of Oedipus' predecessor on the throne, King Laios, is found. The seer Teiresias describes Oedipus himself as the perpetrator, but he is not believed. Two oracles from bygone days, which will soon be remembered in Thebes, bring new evidence: Laios was once prophesied that he would be slain by his own son. As a result, Laios had his young son abandoned in the mountains, where he was later allegedly killed by a band of robbers.

Who Was King Oedipus?

Oedipus, the son of King Polybos, grew up at the court of Corinth and was prophesied that he would one day kill his father and marry his mother. Deeply shaken by this oracle and to escape the tragic fate of a patricide, Oedipus had left Corinth. On his wandering he got into an argument with an unknown man at a crossroads and killed him in a duel. Then he solved the riddle of the Sphinx, a winged beast that threatened the city of Thebes. As a prize for this he won the hand of the widowed Theban Queen Iokaste and became King of Thebes himself.

How does the oracle come true?

When the death of King Polybos - his supposed father - was reported from Corinth, Oedipus learned that he had been adopted by him as a child. The messenger of the news of Polybos' death was the same who had once not killed the child of Laios out of compassion, but handed it over to a Corinthian shepherd. Later the messenger was also a witness of the fatal argument between Oedipus and King Laius - the unknown man at the crossroads. So Oedipus had actually become his father's murderer and his mother's husband, Queen Iocaste. When all this was revealed, Iocaste hanged himself and Oedipus put out his eyes.

Why is Oedipus a modern character?

With Sophocles, the focus is on the tragedy of the isolated individual breaking out of the community. His hero acts on his own responsibility against the gods and becomes "innocently guilty" by trying to evade his fate. In the conflict between the search for identity and repression, between knowledge and delusion, Oedipus thus becomes a model for the ambivalence of human existence.

In terms of genre, the dramas of Sophocles stand between those of his model Aeschylus and those of the younger Euripides. Aeschylus, in his pathetic, carried style, is still determined by trust in the divine rule and in the integration of the individual in the gender association. Euripides (around 480–406 BC), as a representative of a "more secular" consciousness, made the individual with his contradicting passions the subject of his tragedies and, even more than Sophocles, became the model for modern drama.

What was new about Sophocles' drama?

The most important dramaturgical innovations in Sophocles are the expansion of the acting spectrum through the introduction of a third actor and the separation of the individual tragedy from the context of the trilogy (see Aeschylus).

Did you know that …

the Oedipus subject, to which Aeschylus and Euripides also dedicated tragedies that have not survived, was varied again and again, mostly based on a version of Seneca from the 1st century? As a drama by the Enlightener Voltaire (1718), as an oratorio by Igor Stravinsky (1927) or as a film adaptation by Pier Paolo Pasolini ("Edipo Re", 1967), who relocated the plot to the underdeveloped south of Italy.

not least because of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic interpretation of the myth ("Oedipus complex") this drama is still anchored in the general consciousness like hardly any other ancient tragedy?

Who was Sophocles' artistic foster father?

According to his own admission, he learned the dramatic art from his older contemporary Aeschylus. Sophocles (around 496–406 BC) was an influential politician and award-winning playwright in ancient Athens. 441-439 BC He held the office of strategist together with Pericles, but also held high priesthoods. Together with Aeschylus and Euripides he formed the illustrious "triumvirate" of Attic tragedy in antiquity. Sophocles wrote over 100 stage works, seven of which have survived. His "King Oedipus" ("Oidípous tyrannos", before 425 BC) became the archetype of the analytical drama in which the decisive events took place before the onset of the stage action and are only "developed" (Friedrich Schiller).