Greek Tragedy Revision Guide

My revision guide for Greek Tragedy,

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Oedipus Rex
Summary
Oedipus is born to Laius and Jocasta (the king and queen of Thebes)
They are given a terrible prophecy prior to his birth that he will kill his father and marry his
mother so they ask a sheep herder on mount Cithaeron to tie the boy's feet and leave him
to die there.
Little do they know, he hands the child to another farmer (of Corinth) who presents the
boy to King and Queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope.
Oedipus grows up surrounded by rumours that he is not the son of Polybus and Merope.
He consults the Oracle who gives him the prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill
his father.
Upon hearing this, Oedipus runs away. On his journey, at a crossroads (metaphorically and
physically) he kills a band of men who drove him off the road (some road rage)
Unbeknownst to Oedipus, he has just fulfilled the first half of the prophecy.
Oedipus arrives in the plague-ridden Thebes and solves the riddle of the sphinx: "what
crawls on 4, walks on 2, then 3. The answer is man. Upon solving the riddle, Oedipus is
crowned king of Thebes and Jocasta is presented to him as a gift.
Years past and this is where `Oedipus Rex' begins.
Thebes has once again been cursed with a plague and Oedipus is still king.
The old and young (chorus) gather to plead with Oedipus to help them overcome the
plague.
Oedipus informs them he has already sent Creon to Delphi to consult an Oracle.
When Creon returns, Oedipus chooses to speak with him in front of the people and Creon
tell his that the plague will disappear when the killer of Laius is removed from Thebes.
Oedipus first tries pleading with the murderer saying he will be exiled.
When this fails, he tries pleading with the people saying if they know, they should come
forward and receive a life-long guest friendship (Xenia) with Oedipus.
When this fails, he makes and edict to the people that no one may allow him in their
house, aid him in anyway etc...
Oedipus makes a vow to the people that he will find the killer and swears on his own life
and his family in the process.
He calls upon Tiresias, the blind seer, but he refuses to answer "How terrible ­ to see the
truth when the truth is only pain to him who sees! I knew it well, but I put it from my
mind, else I never would have come" "I will never reveal my dreadful secrets".
Oedipus is angered by the somewhat cryptic responses and firstly pleads with Tiresias.
When he refuses, Oedipus and Tiresias argue. Oedipus is told that he is the murderer "I
say you are the murderer you hunt".
He then accuses Tiresias and Creon of conspiring against him (somewhat out of the blue)
(if the books are looked at as an epic then Tiresias and Creon have a closer relationship in
Antigone). On this note, Tiresias makes his last prophecy that Oedipus will be blind soon
and the truth will come out.
Oedipus confronts Creon and Jocasta breaks up the fight (displaying her motherly and wife
role). She tells him that not all prophecies come true and gives him the example of

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Polybus, he was supposed to be killed by his son but was killed by `a group of thieves' at
the crossroad leaving one survivor.
Oedipus see's (symbolic) similarities with Jocasta's story and his encounter at the
crossroads and starts to suspect that he may have killed Laius. He calls for the survivor to
come forward.
A messenger then arrives who tells Jocasta, then Oedipus that Polybus has died.…read more

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This can also be seen as the matrimonial relationship
however, it depends on the reader's perspective.
OEDIPUS AND CREON ­ Not as important as other relationships because Creon's character is
replaceable (he is mainly the informant of the prophecy).…read more

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Antigone
Summary
Following the story of Oedipus Rex (and Oedipus at Colonus) we find a war between
Thebes and Argos has broken out.
Polynices fights for Argos and Etocles fights for Thebes.
Prior to the play, the sons of Oedipus die by each other's hand.
Creon is now king of Thebes and he decrees that Etocles shall have full military honours
and burial rites but no one shall touch Polynices' body, he should be left for the
scavengers seeing as he is a traitor.…read more

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Analysis, Relationships and Themes
GENDER ­ Contextually and thematically huge in Antigone. The Gender divide shown in Antigone
is best exemplified by Ismene ­ the contextual, average Greek woman. Submissive to men and
breaking the law ­ and Antigone ­ the determined male-like woman who defied the social norm to
do what was right in the eyes of the gods.
NATURAL LAW ­ MAN MADE LAW ­ this sets up the whole plot of the play.…read more

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Medea
Summary
Medea has left her home to help Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In doing so she
betrayed her family, killed her brother etc...
She arrived in Iolkos where they intended to stay but convinced the daughters of the king
(Jason's uncle Pelias) to kill the king and so they were forced to flee.
They then arrive in Corinth and Jason becomes betrothed to the daughter of king Creon
(different Creon) Glaucae.
Medea is heartbroken and this is where the book begins.…read more

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Analysis, Relationships and Themes
GENDER ­ possibly the most important theme in Antigone. The gender role in the play is almost
reversed with Antigone reaching heights that other women, especially of the time, could not
reach. Also, Jason's role is somewhat a women oriented role as he is the powerless one and
cannot stop the force of Medea.…read more

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Phaedra laments her situation but refuses to talk to anyone about it. She is refusing to eat
or sleep because of it.
The nurse goes and speaks to Phaedra who finally makes Phaedra admit that she is sick
with love for Hippolytus. She says she plans to starve herself in order to die with honour
and her name intact (for her children's' sake).
The nurse says that she can fix the situation, mentioning medicines that will cure her.…read more

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This may be due to the fact that both she and the Nurse may be agents of
Aphrodite but this is debated.
SEXUAL REPRESSION VS SEXUAL EXPRESSION ­ Hippolytus is the archetypal sexually repressed
young man and therefore acts misogynistic towards women because he is not sure yet how to act
around them. Phaedra on the other hand is over-expressive by this standard and the two contrast
and clash causing devastating outcomes.…read more

Comments

Uzpire1

Thank you so much this has really helped me with my revision. :)

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