|VCCS Litonline Introduction to Literature
English 112 (English Composition II)
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sphinx to read the play.
Oedipus the Wreck
Objective for this Page: To summarize episode 3 and stasimon 3.
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Summary of Oedipus the King
Episode 3: A messenger from Corinth
notifies Oedipus that his father is dead and the throne of Corinth is his.
Jocasta prays to Apollo to ease her husband's
worries because the city looks to him for leadership. Immediately, a messenger arrives
with the news that Polybus [POL-ee-bus], king of Corinth, has died. As far as anybody
knows so far, Oedipus is his son.
|Is Oedipus a True Leader
Oedipus was born a prince,
raised to be a king. What does this play tell us about the nature of leadership and the
qualities of a great leader? Does Oedipus possess the sort of concern for the downtrodden
that Princess Diana Windsor tried to instill in her sons, or is he the sort of king who is
more concerned with the outer image than the substance of his rule? Does Oedipus have a
"messiah complex," or is he justifiably taking on the role of savior of Thebes?
Click to see archived
answers on this issue.
Oedipus is relieved that he has not killed his
father, but he still fears that he may end up somehow married to Merope [MAIR-oh-pay], the
queen of Corinth, his mother. The messenger says he need not worry about that because
Polybus and Merope were not his biological parents. The messenger himself had gotten
Oedipus as a baby (he suggests that Oedipus can still see the scars from where his feet
were bound together, giving him his name--"swollen feet") from a man who tended
sheep on Mount Cithaeron [KITH-er-on]. This man worked for Laius.
|Is Oedipus a Free Man or a Fool of the
Irony and coincidence also
influence our view of Oedipus as a tragic protagonist. To what extent is Oedipus a fool of
the gods, and to what extent is he free to choose his own way? In other words, do the gods
simply know what Oedipus will do in a given situation because they know human nature, or
do they actually manipulate events beyond likelihood and mere coincidence? Mention several
incidents or decision points for Oedipus in your answer.
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answers about this issue.
Jocasta urges Oedipus to halt the investigation
here; he assumes she is afraid he will find out he was born a commoner, and he demands the
corroboration that the field hand can give, since that is the man who supposedly handed
Oedipus to the Corinthian, as well as surviving the attack where three roads meet.
Jocasta, "hurled by a savage grief,"
flees inside the palace.
Is Jocasta actually
willing to live in incest with her son as long as the information isn't public? Since it
was Jocasta, according to the herdsman in the next scene, who actually gave the baby to
him and commanded him to abandon it on the mountainside, does Jocasta kill herself because
she can't face Oedipus or because she can't face the public shame of their incest?
Click to archived ideas
Stasimon 3: The Thebans speculate
on what idyllic rural episode might have led to Oedipus' birth.
Although the leader of the chorus is concerned
about Jocasta, the townspeople are celebrating that Oedipus was saved on Mount Cithaeron.
Maybe one of the gods sired Oedipus in one of those quaint stories about the gods changing
to mortal form and siring offspring with pleasant wood nymphs. (Like most people, they
don't want to believe the worst. It must be a relief to them to speculate about a very
positive origin for their hero.)