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oediphus the king
Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King starts in the legend where Oedipus, king of Thebes, is trying get rid of the plague in his city. Oedipus sends Creon to the oracles at Delphi to get the answer to the city's problems. Creon is away for a long time, and he returns with Teiresias, the blind prophet. They repeat the oracles' statement: the plague will end only when Laios' murderer is discovered. Sophocles tells the events in order and finally unmask Oedipus as the murderer. That Oedipus acted like he didnt know anything about this was irrelevant; he feels he must be punished for his terrible crime, and so in his despair he blinds himself. His wife and mother Iocaste hangs herself. Creon ascends the throne of Thebes, and Oedipus goes into exile.
A priest of Thebes slowly advances toward Oedipus. He is hesitant and cautious before this famous person. You realize that Oedipus isn't looked up to just because he's the king; he's genuinely admired and respected. The priest speaks urgently, informing the king that the city of Thebes, once prosperous, is now in ruin. A mysterious, unnatural plague has settled on the countryside, causing unborn children to die, and the cattle to get sick. Perhaps today you'd look to science for a solution to such a calamity. In Sophocles' time, however, there would have been no doubt in anyone's mind that there are religious causes for this misery.
It appears that these people have come to seek comfort and advice from Oedipus, the "wisest in the ways of God." Oedipus, after all, solved the riddle of the Sphinx. Surely, they feel, Oedipus can now find a remedy for the plague. Only Oedipus can restore Thebes to its former glory.
Oedipus is genuinely touched by the spectacle of his suffering "children." He promises to investigate the unknown cause of the deadly plague. In fact, like any effective leader, he's already taken action. He explains that he's sent Creon, brother of his wife, Queen Iocaste, to the sacred city of Delphi to ask the oracles for a pledge that might yet save the city from destruction. Oedipus is worried, however, that Creon has been gone too long. Just then, Creon rushes in with a troubled expression on his face.
This revelation is a huge shock among the Theban citizens. But Oedipus, immediately presses for more specific information. He demands that Creon name the man responsible for the crime but Creon can only repeat the story of the crime as it was told to him by the oracles: Laios, who was king of Thebes before Oedipus, went on a religious pilgrimage. On the road he was brutally attacked by a band of highwaymen. The former king and his servants, save one who escaped to spread word of the crime, were killed or left to die. Directly following Laios' murder, new problems arose in Thebes, and there was never a chance to hunt down the killers and avenge the murder.
Oedipus is outraged by this tale, and he resolves to avenge the murder of Laios personally. He has several motives for this: 1. personal safety: the murderer could reappear at any moment to kill him as well; 2. public duty: as king he must avenge the city and the city's god; 3. moral concern: for everyone's sake it will be good to be rid of evil.
The Prologue concludes, however, with a note of joyous celebration. The suppliants and priests gather up their ceremonial olive boughs and fig branches. They rejoice, certain that Oedipus will expose the murderer and save the city from inevitable ruin. Oedipus himself exits proudly, reminding his followers that he will do all he can to unmask the murderer:
The Prologue is traditionally followed in Greek tragedy by the Parados, where the Chorus enters. As the "ideal spectator" of these events, this group of actors represents the community and speaks directly to the audience.
First the Chorus restates poetically that Thebes is dying because of the unexplained plague; that the gods must swiftly- but mercifully- intervene to save the city. The Chorus then prays to the gods, asking them to relieve the city from despair. The first antistrophe ... more
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Edgar Allan Poe
By: Tommy Smith
Short Story Perversity Edgar Allan Poe is perhaps the best-known American Romantic who worked in the Gothic mode. His stories explore the darker side of the Romantic imagination, dealing with the grotesque, the supernatural, and the horrifying. He defined the form of the American short story. As one might expect, Poe himself eschewed conventional morality, which he believed stems from man's attempts to dictate the purposes of God. Poe saw God more as process than purpose. He believed that moralists derive their beliefs, and thus, the resultant behavioral patterns, from a priori knowledge. In Eureka, we find that Poe shunned such artifices of mind, systems which, he professed, have no basis in reality. Yet Poe employed in his writing the diction of the moral tome, which causes confusion for readers immersed in this tradition. Daniel Hoffman reiterates Allan Tate's position that, aside from his atavistic employment of moral terminology, Poe writes as though "Christianity had never been invented." (Hoffman 171) Poe did offer to posterity one tale with a moral. Written in 1841 at the dawn of Poe's most creative period, Poe delivers to his readers a satirical spoof, a literary Bronx cheer to writers of moralistic fiction, and to critics who expressed disapprobation at finding no discernible moral in his works. The tale "Never Bet the Devil Your Head: A Tale with a Moral" presents Poe's "way of staying execution" (Poe 487) for his transgressions against the didactics. The story's main character is Toby Dammit, who from infanthood, had been flogged left-handed, which since the world revolves right to left, causes evil propensities to be driven home rather than driven out. The narrator relates that by the age of seven months, Toby was chasing down and kissing the female babies, that by eight months he had flatly refused to sign the Temperance Pledge, and that by the end of his first year, he'd taken to "wearing moustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing, and for backing his assertions with bets." (Poe 488) As Toby reaches manhood, the narrator finally accepts that his young friend is incorrigible. By this time, Toby utters scarcely a sentence without oaths, his favorite of which is to bet the devil his head that he can accomplish whatever challenge lies before him. One day as the narrator accompanies Toby Dammit on a route which requires the crossing of a covered bridge, Toby bets the devil his head that he can leap over a bridge stile, pigeon winging as he performs the feat. Unexpectedly a "little lame old gentleman of venerable aspect" (Poe 491) interrupts with an emphatic "ahem" to take Toby up on his bet. The elderly gentleman wears a "a full suit of black, but his shirt was perfectly clean and the collar turned very neatly down over a white cravat." Oddly, his eyes are "carefully rolled up into the top of his head," and he wears a black silk apron. (491) After he takes charge of Toby, allowing him a running start, the elderly interloper takes his position just behind the stile. The narrator awaits the gentleman's "One--two--three--and--away," when Toby initiates his running leap. To all appearances, the young reprobate is destined to clear the stile easily, pigeon-winging as he flies, when abruptly his progress is arrested, and the luckless Toby falls flat on his back on his side of the stile. The elderly gentleman is indistinctly seen wrapping a bulky object in his apron, and taking his leave of them. When the narrator throws open an adjacent window, he sees that Toby has been deprived of his head by a sharp, heretofore unnoticed cross-support located directly above the stile. Stated so that the targets of Poe's ridicule cannot miss it, the moral of his tale is the title of the story. Yet the moral of the tale is not its theme. Poe purposes ridicule of those who presume to judge him, and of their small-mindedness. This ridicule is his theme. His rendering of this riotous spoof illustrates that Poe believed he had more important things to do than pass moral judgment in his tales. Poe instead opted to depict what occurred to him as the ... more
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