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Oedipus: Study Questions


The following questions are intended to help you reflect on the nature of Greek Drama during the 5th and 6th centuries B.C., some of the events in the play and the implications of those events . Consider all of the questions; but choose only one question to answer and post in the Study Question folder (please include the questions with your answer). Comment on the answers of others as you read them.


1. The "tone" of the first speech Oedipus establishes the relationship Oedipus feels he has with his people. How would you describe that tone and that relationship? Cite examples from the speech.

2. Teiresias believes there can be a wisdom which "profits not the wise." Oedipus finds this difficult to believe. How do Oedipus' actions in the first portion of the play indicate that he sees little value in the concept that it may be foolish to be wise?

3. What qualities does Oedipus exhibit in the play that indicate that he is, in fact, quite a good leader of men?

4. The use of dramatic irony in this play is a hallmark of Sophocles' skill as a playwright. One definition of ‘dramatic irony’ is its unintended results - we say, or do, something intended for one purpose and it, in fact, accomplishes another unintended and opposite one. Dramatic irony is also said to occur when the characters in a play do one thing and the audience knows it will mean or cause something else. The irony is the result of the contrast between the meaning intended by the speaker (character) and the significance which the audience knows resides in the remarks. Can you find any instances of this type of "dramatic irony" in the play, places where characters do something or say something intending one thing but the audience knows that this will have an unintended effect?

5. The theme of "blindness, both physical and psychological, is a major one in this play. Using examples from the drama, explain how you see this carried throughout the play.

6. What do you think the meaning of the Chorus' last speech is. Explicate. How does Oedipus' fate exemplify the theory of this speech?

7. The role of the theater in Greece during this time was a very different one from the role the theater plays today. By raising the questions of belief in prophets and gods and those of fate and destiny, Sophocles was able to use the Theater in the way the Greeks intended. Explain.