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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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However, Oedipus stays in Colonus both of his own will and the will of Theseus and his people. Their combined will ultimately prevails over the machinations of Creon. Sophocles constantly reminds us of the central dilemma of his play, that of the relative powers of divine Fate and human free will. Viewed from another angle, Oedipus is fated to stay on in Colonus as the oracles have prophesied his death will take place there. This clever juxtaposition of fate and free will keeps the audience engaged in a debate over the meaning and mystery of life, making Oedipus At Colonus a profoundly philosophical play.

Creon's accusations about Oedipus' temper is only partially true here. Oedipus, of course, has good cause to be incensed by Creon's malevolent scheme to return him to Thebes. His rage surfaces when he lays his awesome curse on Creon and his family that they may all be struck blind in old age and die, like him, in a dark and isolated world. That Oedipus has been deprived of sight twice over -- once, by his own hands at Thebes, and now with the abduction of Antigone who served as his substitute eye -- is a justification for the resurfacing of his ire.

This scene moves the plot ahead with its action-packed attempted arrest of Oedipus and the abduction of his daughters. The chorus rarely intervenes in the action of Greek tragedy, but they do so here in order to save Oedipus from the clutches of Creon. The chorus earlier protected the grove against Oedipus' intrusion; now, they protect Oedipus against Creon. By their noble actions and that of their king, they vindicate Athens' name as a fair city that protects even a stranger like Oedipus from challenges both local and alien. This gives Athens the unique distinction of providing safe haven for those who seek political asylum or are in quest of spiritual and emotional solace in a land that guarantees liberty, free speech, and the right to die with dignity.


Annotation:

1. The oracles of Zeus and Apollo: The oracles of Zeus at Dodona in Epirus and of Apollo at Delphi were two of the oldest shrines in Greece whose priest/priestess was consulted by all the people, regardless of status. Oedipus implicitly trusts these prophecies because of his previous experience with ignoring what they had to say. (Refer to note on the legend of Oedipus).

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