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Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus
In this course, Professor Richard Seaford (University of Exeter) explores Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. We begin by thinking about the plot of the play, focusing in particular on the Aristotelian concepts of reversal and recognition, as well as the tightness of the plotting more generally. After that, we think about other versions of the Oedipus myth, and how these compared to the version written by Sophocles. In the third module, we think about the links between Sophocles' play and Sigmund Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex, before thinking about the Greeks' own attitudes towards incest. In the fourth module, we critique the idea of the 'tragic hero', making the case that the central characters of tragedy are better understood not as 'heroes' but as 'tyrants' – and we go to think about contemporary attitudes towards tyrants and tyranny in fifth-century Athens. After that, we think about the presentation of fate and free will in the play, focusing in particular on the important concepts of hubris and of the unity of opposites, before turning in the sixth and final module to the idea of Oedipus as a completely different kind of hero to those the Greeks were most used to – a hero who defeats the monster not by force, but through the sheer weight of his intellect.
In this module, we think about the plot of Oedipus Tyrannus, focusing in particular on the Aristotelian concepts of 'recognition' (anagnorisis) and 'reversal' (peritpeteia), and the tightness of the plotting in Greek tragedy more generally.
Cite this Lecture
Seaford, R. (2019, January 24). Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus - The Plot [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/sophocles-oedipus-tyrannus-seaford
Seaford, R. "Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus – The Plot." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Jan 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/sophocles-oedipus-tyrannus-seaford