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Oedipus Rex (The King)
by Sophocles
Greek Theater
Amphitheater: semicircle with a central
viewing area
Greek Theater - Parts
Greek Theater – Parts Defined
– dressing
room for
Thymele – altar for god(s), in
middle of “stage”
Skene – place for
Orchestra – where
the actors performed,
at front of “stage”
Theatron – place
for audience to sit
Genre: Greek Tragedy
Tragedy orignates from “tragos,” which means
“goat.” Theory: Winners of festivals would
receive a goat as prize.
Focused on popular myths and legends (Oedipus,
Trojan War, Hercules, Perseus) and the gods and
Examined the consequences of individual
actions, the relationship of people to the gods,
and the role fate plays in life
Best known writers – Aeschylus, Euripides, and
Genre’s Characteristics
• A tragedy is a serious drama featuring a hero or main
character, often of noble birth, who strives to achieve
something and is ultimately defeated.
• The structure of most Greek tragedies presents a tight,
formal arrangement of parts.
•Prologue: the opening scene of the play.
•Parados: the first of the Chorus’s lyric songs, or choral
•Dialogue: the conversation of the play’s characters.
•Choral Odes: lyric songs are choral odes.
Sophocles treated his chorus as collective “actor.”
•Exodos: the concluding scene of a play.
Greek Drama
 One of the oldest forms of drama (6th century)
 Grew out of religion and myth
 Performed at religious festivals to honor
Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility
 Only male actors allowed to perform
 Actors wore masks for 3 main reasons.
1) Characterization and visibility
2) To play various roles with few actors
3) Sound assistance (mouth pieces acted like
Greek Masks
Plays were a part of
festivals to honor the
gods. Oedipus honors the
deity, Dionysus, god of
Every citizen attended
these plays, sometimes
up to 15,000.
At the end of the
festivals, judges would
vote on the best play.
Greek gods
Dionysus –
god of wine,
fertility, and
Apollo –
god of healing
and prophecy
Zeus – the
supreme deity
of gods
Athena –
goddess of
Considered the greatest
playwright from Ancient
It is believed he won the
Athenian festival
eighteen times.
Very involved in political
and militarily affairs.
Oedipus Rex is part of a
Sophocles the Innovator
Added a 3rd actor.
First to include painted scenery.
Reduced the size of the chorus to fifteen men.
Purpose of chorus is to represent the citizens who
often question, advise, and express opinions.
Never showed violent scenes on stage. Violence
was reported by a messenger, a character in the
Theme: The central idea
or insight to a work of
Fate vs. Free Will – In
ancient Greek culture, it
was questioned whether
it was possible to avoid
one’s fate by simple
chance or an attempt to
avoid prophecy.
Oedipus and the Sphinx
The Quest for Identity
and Truth
The Nature of Innocence
and Guilt
The Nature of Moral
The Abuse of Power
Oedipus and the Sphinx
The Characters
The Royal Family
Laius (LAY oos)
Jocasta (jo KAS tuh)
Creon (KREE ahn)
her brother
Oedipus (ED i pus)
their son
The Characters
Oedipus’ Family
The Thebans
The Royal Family
Oedipus (ED i pus)
Jocasta (jo KAS tuh)
Delphi’s Oracle
Oracle of Delphi
Most important shrine
in Greece – for the god
Built around a sacred
spring, was considered
to be the “opmhalos”
(the navel) – the center
of the world
Priestess of Apollo –
Pythia – gave cryptic
answers to those
seeking answers
Sphinx –
a winged, man-eating
creature with a lion’s
body and a woman’s
head, vicious and single
Name from the Greek
word sphingo meaning
“to strangle”
The Sphinx’s Riddle
Oedipus and the Sphinx
The Sphinx plagued
Thebes with her riddle.
“What walks on four legs
in the morning, two in the
afternoon, and three in the
When Oedipus solved the
riddle, the Sphinx killed
herself and he inherited
the throne of Thebes,
which also included its
queen, Jocasta.
Tragic Hero
character who makes an
error of judgment or has
a fatal flaw that,
combined with fate and
external forces, brings on
a tragedy
Hamartia: weakness or
flaw in a character.
Hubris: excessive pride
or arrogance
Catharsis: selfrealization and selfawareness, where
suffering causes relief