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Oedipus PS

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A King Must Leave His People

Today is a tragic day for Thebes. Dark secrets were revealed and lives were destroyed. Nobody can fathom the enormity of this dark day. King Oedipus, in his pursuit to find Laios' killer, had discovered that he himself was the murderer. Many years ago, as Oedipus was coming to Thebes, he met King Laios on a road. A fight ensued as father and son took on each other. Oedipus was the victor as he used his walking stick to kill his father. From that point on, Oedipus became part of the Thebes, suffering as it suffered and joyful with its jubilation.

However, today is indeed a sad day now that the truth is revealed. Oedipus expressed intense guilt to all of Thebes today, admitting sadly, "If only I had died, this weight of monstrous doom could not have dragged me and my darlings down." He went on to say: "Ah Polybus! Corinth, city that I believed the ancient seat of my ancestors: how fair I seemed your child! And all the while this evil was cancerous within me!"

For the welfare of Thebes, Oedipus has decided to exile himself, never to return to the land where he had experienced terrible tragedy. Before he left, however, he apologized to his second-in-command, Creon, who is also his uncle now, for having wrongly accused him of trying to usurp the thrown. Creon expressed his forgiveness by letting Oedipus "see" his daughters for the last time. It was an emotional good-bye as Oedipus lamented: "I weep for you when I think of the bitterness that will visit upon you all your lives. What homes, what festivals can you attend without being forced to depart again in tears? And when you come to marriageable age, where is the man, my daughters, who would dare risk the bane that lies on all my children?... And your lives must wither away in sterile dreaming." And with that, Oedipus departs from Thebes, shameful of the misfortune that has befallen him and ready to accept the punishment that he had put on himself.

( + commercials)

"You were listening to the Thebes News Broadcasting. Your host Sophocles. Thank you and good night!"

(songs by chorus) DJ

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The Complete Plays of Sophocles

"The Complete Plays of Sophocles" presents a fundamental tradeoff: the translations of the seven extant plays of Sophocles were done by Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb at the end of the 19th century, which means the translations are rather stilted. But on the other hand you get the seven extant plays of Sophocles in a single standard sized paperback volume. The formalism of Jebb's translations does provide a sense of the inherent dignity of Greek tragedy; besides, editor Moses Hadas has substituted moderate for extreme archaism in vocabulary, syntax, and word order regarding the dialogue (the choral poetry remains essentially intact).
Sophocles wrote more than 120 plays, only seven of which have survived intact. If we were left with a similar ratio of the plays of William Shakespeare we would be reducing the Bard down to four plays (go ahead, pick your four favorite Shakespeare plays and then think of what would then be lost). Obviously the big plays here are "Oedipus the King" and "Antigone," which comprise two-thirds of the Theban trilogy along with "Oedipus at Colonus," and Sophocles' version of the murder of Clytemnestra by her son Orestes in "Electra," the only mythological story for which we have tragedies by all three of the Greek tragic playwrights. "Ajax," "Trachinian Women," and "Philoctetes" are lesser plays but have in common the Sophocles ideal of the Greek hero.
The ancients considered Sophocles to be the greatest master of tragedy, although today modern critics show a preference for Euripides. Aristotle cited "Oedipus the King" as the ideal tragedy, and the play remains the perfect choice for explicating the Aristotlean elements of tragedy such as hubris, anagnorisis, harmartia, et al. Consequently, for teaching the basics of Greek tragedy it remains the first and most obvious choice. From a contemporary perspective, it is the development of character in the plays of Sophocles that warrants the most attention, as evidenced by Freud's development of the Oedipus and Electra complexes off of these plays. Contemporary readers are stille enthralled by such protagonists as Oedipus and Antigone, individuals who are doomed by the very qualities that made them heroic. Even in defeat such characters achieve a moral victory of sorts.
There is a corresponding volume containing the complete tragedies of Euripides, which would make for some interesting pedagogical possibilities for classroom study. Hadas also edited a collection of Greek plays that features three from Sophocles in addition to works by Aeschylus and Euripides. I still think there is great value today in the formal study of Greek tragedies and "The Complete Plays of Sophocles" is one way to doing so with some degree of depth.
RADIO: Hello Thebes! Yours, the one and only, Sophocles, speaking! Of course, you know our famous CHARACTERS on the Capital Hill. After the news, my commentaries and interviews, we will take your phone call, as usual... Today in our studio we have a special guest, a political philosiopher from the Athens Academy, senior researcher, professor Aristotle with his anaylisis of Major Characters in the unfolding top story from the Palace. Welcome, sir.

ARISTOTLE. Thank you, Sophocles. Let me start with the protagonist, as we call him...

King Oedipus - the king of Thebes. A man ruled by a fate, according to which he is to murder his father and marry his own mother. Oedipus is unaware of the fact that he has already committed these dreadful acts. He is highly intelligent, short of temper, and impetuous.

Jocasta - the queen of Thebes. She is Oedipus' wife as well as his mother but is as ignorant about the latter fact as is Oedipus. She is a good and loving queen who does not hesitate to speak her mind.

Creon - Jocasta's brother. He is a responsible and loyal Theban citizen. Judicious, rational, and consistent in nature, he acts as a foil to the more impulsive Oedipus.

Tiresias - The blind prophet of Thebes, Tiresias has been blessed with immortality. He is the only one in Thebes who is aware of the facts of Oedipus' life.

Chorus - The Chorus plays a very important role in Greek tragedies by providing background information, commenting on the action of the play and revealing the psychological and emotional tenor of the action. In Oedipus Rex, the chorus is formed of Theban citizens who witness Oedipus' tragedy. They are a link between the actors and the audience because they voice the emotions, anxieties and concerns of the people watching the tragedy.

Shophocles: What about the Minor Characters?

Aristotle: A Corinthian Shepherd - An old man from Corinth, who brings the news of the Corinthian king's death. He is also the man who had presented the infant Oedipus to the Corinthian ruler after he had been abandoned by the Theban shepherd.

A Theban Shepherd - another old man who was a confidante of King Laius. He is the sole witness of Laius' murder and also the one to hand over the infant Oedipus to the Corinthian Shepherd.

Although both these shepherds are minor characters in the tragedy, they do play a major part in unraveling the mystery of Oedipus' birth and Laius' murder.

The two daughters of Oedipus - Antigone and Ismene make an appearance in the play although they are not assigned any dialogue.

A messenger, priests, attendants are the other minor characters.

Shophocles: More of the coverage after the break. Stay tuned!

Scene Summaries with Notes
• Prologue And Parodos
• Exposition And First Stasimon
• Rise In Action
• Climax
• Exodus
Oedipus Rex can be divided into a Prologue; an Exposition (First Episode); Rise of Action (Second Episode); Climax (Third Episode) and Exodus (Fourth Episode). Each episode ends with a stasimon, or a choral ode.


Another archetypical phenomenon is the doubt which overcame Oedipus when he asked himself if his parents were his genuine parents -- or: who actually was he himself; what was his real identity? Searching for the truth, he went to the oracle. Thereafter, he wanted to avoid truth, and because of this he fulfilled the prophecy. Thus he killed his father and married his mother.


Schools & Lectures I gave before we opened the show:

Post-AmeriKA -- I should quote from the book to explain what I see this week, to explain why America has the fate of USSR... I was there, I saw it.

Next: classics
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"They don't know that I was there, in their future. For over a decade I was a member of the Communist party. First, I was a pioneer and komsomol youth. I lived nothing else but the life of an ideological citizen. Political correctness was the law of the land. For a single politically incorrect act people were send to prisons and labor camps. My post-war generation got it easy; before us the politically incorrect were executed without trials. We were the third miraculous generation of utopians, we were tamed. We all knew what is right and wrong, and we all knew that it's a bullshit. Nobody was expected to believe in communism, only to behave as if one who does. You get up when everybody raise. You had to applaud when everybody did. The law of the law is that the law is for all. Once it's broken, it's not the law anymore. No, the law knows no exceptions, if it wants to remain as the law."
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