Oedipus Rex Questions
The Prologue (p5-12)
1. Where does the play take place?
2. Which character begins the play?
3. What is Oedipus’s attitude toward the suppliants seeking his help? 4. What does the priest ask Oedipus to do?
5. What has Oedipus already done?
6. Who is Creon?
7. What is the message from the oracle of Delphi with which Creon returns? 8. What prevented Thebes from tracking down the murderer of Laius at the time the murder occurred? 9. What does Oedipus promise to do?
10. The suppliants are carrying olive boughs (branches) which symbolize peace. Why do you think Oedipus tells the suppliants to take their branches of supplication off the alter?
11. To which three gods and goddesses does the chorus appeal for rest from their suffering? 12. Describe the condition of the people of Thebes as the play begins.
Scene One (p14)
13. What will happen to the guilty person if he comes forward and admits his guilt? What will happen if he doesn’t? 14. List some of the ironic statements made by Oedipus about the murder and Laius. 15. What is the Chorus’s response?
16. What might be an explanation for Oedipus having to send for Tiresias twice? 17. At his entrance, how is Tiresias described by the Chorus? 18. Why do you think Tiresias wants to leave?
19. What is ironic about Oedipus’s statement: “I understand it all”? 20. Explain the paradox (something that seems to be a contradiction but is not) of blindness of the following example: Tiresias [to Oedipus]: Listen to me. You mock my blindness, do you? But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind.
Ode One (p27-28)
21. What does the chorus remind the audience about the murderer? 22. When the chorus debates whether to believe Oedipus or Teiresias, with whom do they side and what is their reason?
Scene Two (p29-48)
23. What character trait of Oedipus is revealed by the fact that Oedipus accuses Creon of treason without first hearing his side? 24. What rational argument does Creon use to convince Oedipus that he has no designs on the throne of Thebes? 25. Hamartia is the mistake or error committed by a tragic character which in part accounts for his misfortunes. What is Oedipus’s hamartia? 26. Jocasta does not believe that mortal men are capable of divination (prophesy). What proof does she offer to support this opinion? 27. What detail from Jocasta’s story of Laius’s murder pricks Oedipus’s memory? 28. What eyewitness to the murder of Laius still exists?
29. What is revealed about Oedipus’s personality by his description of the encounter he had with the old man where the three roads meet?
Ode Two (p48-49)
30. How does the chorus feel about the laws of the universe? 31. What worries the chorus most?
Scene Three (p49-62)
32. Discuss the irony in the opening of scene three, where Jocasta burns incense to the gods. 33. What message does the messenger bring?
34. What attitude toward the gods do Jocasta and Oedipus exhibit after learning of Polybos’ death? 35. Though Oedipus is comforted that Polybos, his father, had died of natural causes, what aspect of the oracle still troubles Oedipus? 36. A peripeteia is a reversal caused by a major incident in the plot during which a previously unknown piece of information is revealed. What is the peripeteia in this scene? 37. How does the messenger prove that Oedipus was not the child of Polybos and Merope? 38. What is Jocasta’s response to this? Why does she respond this way? 39. What explanation does Oedipus give for Jocasta being upset?
Ode 3 (p62-63)
Scene Four (p63-69)
40. Scene Four is the anagnorisis of the play (a recognition of his situation). Copy the line where Oedipus’s has his anagnorisis. 41. What three heinous sins has Oedipus committed, sins which were unspeakable and unforgivable in ancient Greek society?
Ode Four (p70-71)
42. What do light/sight and...
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