Advanced Placement Literature and Composition
Title: Oedipus Rex
Date of Publication: believed to have been written in 430 B.C.
Biographical Information about the Author:
Sophocles was born in 495 B.C. in Athens, Greece. He was the son of a wealthy merchant and therefore grew up in the upper class of Athens. He competed in many writing competitions including the competition at the Theatre of Dionysos. He won, defeating Aeschylus. He wrote more than 120 playwrights, however, only 7 survived into modern times. He won over 18 competitions, never winning anything less than 2nd place.
Sophocles lived in Athens during a period of great cultural significance. The development of a democratic type government, wars with Sparta and Persia, agriculture, theatre, and increase in rhetoric use defined the era in which Sophocles lived. It was known as the Golden Age of Athens.
Characteristics of the Genre: Tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and also having magnitude complete in itself. The genre excites the emotions of pity and fear. Catharsis is also seen in this genre. Tragedy touches the “pity and fear” within its audience compared to other emotions drawn in other genres. Hubris, or the tragic flaw, is often seen in this genre too.
A plague has stricken Thebes. The citizens gather outside the palace of their king, Oedipus, asking him to take action. Oedipus replies that he already sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle at Delphi to learn how to help the city. Creon returns with a message from the oracle: the plague will end when the murderer of Laius, former king of Thebes, is caught and expelled; the murderer is within the city. Oedipus questions Creon about the murder of Laius, who was killed by thieves on his way to consult an oracle. Only one of his fellow travelers escaped alive. Oedipus promises to solve the mystery of