greek mythology the oedipus story background to understanding “antigone”
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Greek MythologyThe Oedipus StoryBackground to understanding ANTIGONE
According to Greek mythology:The king of Thebes, Laius, was told by an oracle that there was danger to his throne and his life if his newborn son was allowed to live and grow up.
King Laius gave the child to a herdsman with orders to kill the child.
The shepherd couldnt do it.He tied the child by the feet and left him hanging from the branch of a tree.
He was found by a peasant
who took the baby to his master and mistress. They adopted him and called him Oedipus which means swollen foot
Many years later: (dum, dum, dum)King Laius (Oedipuss birth father) was on his way to Delphi one day when he met a young man in a chariot. When the young man refused to yield the road, a fight ensued.
The young man was Oedipus!He killed King Laius never realizing it was actually his birth father he was killing!
Shortly after this: Thebes is in danger!A monster with the body of a lion and the upper part of a woman called a sphinx lay in wait just outside the city of Thebes accosting travelers.
Riddle me this:The sphinx would propose a riddle to all travelers with the understanding that those who answered correctly could pass, and those who answered incorrectly would be killed.
When Oedipus arrived at the roadthe Sphinx asked him, What animal is it that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?
And Oedipus answered:MAN, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age with the help of a staff
The Sphinx was so mortified at the solving of her riddle that she cast herself down from the rock and perished.
The people of Thebes were so happy!They made Oedipus the king of Thebes and had him marry the queen.
Jocasta and Oedipus marry!Not knowing who his real parents were, Oedipus fulfilled the oracles prophesy: He killed his birth father and married his birth mother!
Thebes became afflicted with famine and pestilenceThe oracle was consulted and the incest was revealed. Jocasta, the queen, was so devastated she took her own life.
Oedipus was seized with madnessHe gouged out his own eyes and left Thebes in disgrace. He spent the rest of his days wandering abandoned by all except his daughters.
Oh yeah!Did I mention Jocasta (queen of Thebes, Oedipuss mom, and Oedipuss wife) had children with Oedipus?Eteokles (male)Polyneices (male)Antigone (female)Ismene (female)
Once Oedipus dies:Antigone and Ismene, Oedipuss daughters, return to Thebes. Their brothers, Eteokles and Polyneices agree to rule Thebes. Eteokles will rule for one year, Polyneices the next and so on.
WAR!When his year is up Eteokles refuses to give the throne to Polyneices. Polyneices goes to Argos (Greece) and gathers an army to take Thebes.
WAR!During the battle, the two brothers engage in a single combat where they kill each other.The armies kept fighting until the invaders (Argos) were defeated.
This sets up:The background for our playsOedipus Antigone