Review: The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles

The Oedipus PlaysThe Oedipus Plays of Sophocles
by Sophocles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles / 0-451-62847-0

Roche's superb translation of the three dramas of Sophocles are a wonderful introduction to the phenomena of Greek drama.

So much of the Greek spirit is delved into here. The problem of predestination is dealt with here in the form of a question: Would Oedipus really have killed his parents if they hadn't tried to thwart the Oracle's prediction by abandoning him? And yet, if they just accepted their fate and raised him as their own, would the Oracle's prediction have failed? Or did the Oracle *know* that the question would be asked and responded to in a certain way, and merely predicted the final outcome of this cycle? Yet does that mean that the Oracle actively determines future rather than merely passively observing it? And around we go.

These plays deal deeply with unforgivable sin and forgiveness. Oedipus himself mistakenly kills the father he never knew and marries the mother he never met. No matter how innocently done, the crime is still there, clinging to him. His sons fail to govern responsibly and fairly and take arms against each other. They both fall in battle, but the one favored by the people is lionized, while the one out of favor is demonized. Against the laws of Zeus, he is denied burial rites and entrance into the afterlife, but own brave sister defies these laws and gives her life to secure afterlife for both her brothers. Sophocles asks us, Is there any fault so grievous that forgiveness cannot be offered?

~ Ana Mardoll

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