Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus [Oedipus the King]

Bernhard Zimmermann (Universität Freiburg)
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The subject matter that lies at the heart of this Sophoclean tragedy was narrated in three epics on Theban myth that today survive only in fragments or later descriptions thereof: the

Oidipodeia

, the

Thebaid

(the curse of Oedipus, the fraternal feud, the march of the Seven against Thebes) and the

Epigonoi

(the sons of the Seven’s revenge campaign and the destruction of Thebes). Important and sometimes pre-Sophoclean elements of the myth include: 1. the exposure of the young Oedipus with pierced ankles (whence his name “Swell-footed”); 2. the patricide and incest with his mother (already appearing in Homer’s

Odyssey

11.217ff.); 3. the blinding of Oedipus and the curse on his sons Eteocles and Polyneices, and 4. these brothers’ battle against each other which ends in their mutual…

2799 words

Citation: Zimmermann, Bernhard. "Oedipus Tyrannus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 October 2011 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3153, accessed 25 May 2024.]

3153 Oedipus Tyrannus 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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