The Tragedy of Oedipus
A Greek tragedy is not like stories today. Certain elements separate Greek tragedies from modern day plays. The main aspect that distinguishes the difference between Ancient Greece and now is the sense of pity and fear. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex proves to be a Greek tragedy, according to Aristotle’s “The Art of Poetry”, through its plot and dramatic twists of events. One could classify Oedipus Rex as a Greek tragedy because it contains the elements, such as suffering, peripety and discovery, character, unity of plot, and the power of pity and fear.
Suffering is an emotional ingredient that must pertain to the plot in order to be considered a Greek tragedy. Aristotle defines suffering as “an action of a destructive or painful nature, such as murders on the stage, tortures, woundings, and the like,” (96). Suffering is an act within a Greek tragedy that causes pain, preferably within the family, such as death or physical pain. After a long search, Oedipus realizes what he had done to his family and says “their father slew his father, sowed the seed where he himself was gendered, and begat these maidens at the source wherefrom he sprang,” (70). Oedipus had admitted to killing his father and through a twist of events, had children with the woman that birthed him. Aristotle makes a point to say that “the deed of horror may be done by the doer knowingly and consciously…or he may do it, but in ignorance of his relationship,” (98). The deed of horror is at its best when it is done in ignorance of the relationship between the doer and the victim. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus kills his father in ignorance and portrays the best way a deed of horror should be done to commit suffering and pain. The story of the birth and supposed death of Oedipus, however, is not represented through ignorance but knowingly. When Jocasta, the wife of Oedipus, explains to her husband the death of her first-born boy she says, “when Laius, its ankles pierced and pinned together,...
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