Oedipus the King Study Guide

Oedipus the King Study Guide

Original title:
September 17th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published -429)
ISBN 0192835882 (ISBN13: 9780192835888)

The story of Oedipus is one of the most famous in the European literature. There are few people who haven’t heard of it or of a well-known Oedipus complex. Sometimes it seems that the plot of the story is so preeminent that it’s not worth spending the time to read it. But a very familiar story opens up with fascinating details, additional plot lines, rich characters and many more intriguing components. 

The ancient city of Thebes is going through very dark times. Struck by a plague, the inhabitants are dying, the economy is in the downfall and it seems that even the Gods have left the region. The prophet tells Oedipus that the horrors will stop only when the murder of the previous Thebes king, Laius, is found and punished. 

Without knowing the whole truth, it was Oedipus who murdered his own father. Even further, he married his biological mother and had children with her. How could this have happened? Moreover, both Oedipus and his wife-mother, Jocasta, knew that this would happen. And everything they did trying to avoid such a scenario only brought it closer. 

The protagonists of the book are legendary: their vivid emotions, fearless commitment, strong will make them real heroes. Their intentions are pure and noble, yet the consequences of their actions are on the contrary of the expected results. 

After finishing the book some readers get an undeniable proof that what was predetermined is unavoidable. That a man is helpless in the face of dictatorship of the Fate. But others will be convinced that the story proved how we as people make our own destiny. It’s our actions that make our fate. 

The protagonists of the story are perceived like modern people of our times: their problems and doubts, passions and feelings are so well familiar. At the same time when flipping the pages of the play, you feel like a noble Achaean walking the ancient streets of Greece. 

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