In ancient Greece plays were a big part of society. They had festivals to celebrate these plays and crown the best at each of these festivals. Many plays were written and, thus, many different types of endings were created for them. Sometimes this would entail a technique known as Deus ex Machina. This would involve a god coming in at the end of the play and settling all of the issues. To act this out they would have the actor come down from a crane like machine. Other playwrights chose to end the play with characters settling all of issues but leaving room for interpretation. Both of these styles have been used in the plays we have read in the second half of this class. In Philoctetes Sophocles chooses to use Deus ex Machina to end it while he chose to end it with his characters in Oedipus Rex. In this paper I will analyze the endings of both Philoctetes and Oedipus Rex and how effectively they close out their respective plays.
In Philoctetes Odysseus and Neoptolemos are charged with the task of retrieving Philoctetes from the island he was left on by the Greek army. Once they get there they attempt to trick Philoctetes into giving them his bow, thinking this was all they needed to end the Trojan War. However after Philoctetes realizes it is Odysseus that is trying to trick him into going with them he refuses to go with them. Philoctetes tells them to go on without him and then begins to mope about his life. After arguing with Neoptolemos about going to Troy with them Herakles appears and settles everything. He does this by telling Philoctetes that he will go with them to Troy where he “will slay Paris – who was the cause of these troubles – and you will conquer Troy” (Page 96. 1617-1619). Herakles also tells Neoptolemos that they cannot win the war without Philoctetes and that Philoctetes cannot do it without him either. Philoctetes is also told that he will be healed of his disease and that he must remember to praise to gods after he has...
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