Autumn iRevise Online Tutorial Series 31st of August to 5th of December

The Oedipus Plays Antigone, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Context 5

Greek Theatre 5

Antigone 5

Summary 6

Characters 7

Oedipus 7

Jocasta 7

Antigone 8

Creon 8

Polynices 9

Tiresias 10

Haemon 10

Ismene 10

Theseus 10

Chorus 10

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols 12

Themes 12

The Power of Unwritten Law 12

The Willingness to Ignore the Truth 12

The Limits of Free Will 12

Motifs 13

Suicide 13

Sight and Blindness 13

Graves and Tombs 13

Symbols 14

Oedipus’s Swollen Foot 14

The Three-way Crossroads 14

Antigone’s Entombment 14

Important Quotations Explained 15

1. 15

2. 15

Sample Answers 16

Discuss the role of the sentry in Antigone. How does this minor character affect our impressions of major characters, or of the play’s central conflict? 16

What is the difference between Oedipus’s relationship with Antigone and his relationship with Ismene in Oedipus at Colonus? 17

The Power of Fate in the Oedipus Trilogy 18

Context

Greek Theatre

Greek theatre was very different from what we call theatre today. It was, first of all, part of a religious festival. To attend a performance of one of these plays was an act of worship, not entertainment or intellectual pastime. But it is difficult for us to even begin to understand this aspect of the Greek theatre, because the religion in question was very different from modern religions. The god celebrated by the performances of these plays was Dionysus, a deity who lived in the wild and was known for his subversive revelry. The worship of Dionysus was associated with an ecstasy that bordered on madness. Dionysus, whose cult was that of drunkenness and sexuality, little resembles modern images of God.

A second way in which Greek theatre was different from modern theatre is in its cultural centrality: every citizen attended these plays. Greek plays were put on at annual festivals (at the beginning of spring, the season of Dionysus), often for as many as 15,000 spectators at once. They dazzled viewers with their special effects, singing, and dan...

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