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The Three Theban Plays – Sophocles Translated by Robert Fagles with Notes on the Translation: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus. Robert Fagles’ translation conveys all of Sophocles’ lucidity and power: the cut The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedip and millions of. In Meyer’s Bedford Introduction to Literature 8th editon, the Fagles translation, there are no marked or numbered scene breaks. See end of file for citing the play .

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The entire plot is mysterious to us — the mystical power that will be gained by the corpse of Oedipus once it is buried, and the importance of burying it in one place or another.

Again, the plot is an unusual one — the main character gradually discovers that he has murdered his father and had children with his mother. They are great works to quote, but less good to read. In her implacable universalism, her religious fanaticism, she is the most selfish character in the play.

OK, a modern reader might say, get over it. I found it the hardest to read by far. The argument that they should have followed him into exile is rather stronger, but still seems incongruous — this Oedipus, this Oedipus who spends the play forcefully asserting his innocence, the injustice of his punishment for actions that were not his fault, that were decided before his birth, seems a strange match to an Oedipus who curses his sons to death for not allowing that punishment to extend another generation.

Here, Sophocles is rather fonder of high melodrama, antigoen literary allusions some now lost on usof people going around shouting a lot, and of long and flowery speeches.

Contrast the passion and concern shown by Haemon and Ismene toward her with her own attitude toward them. Oedipus the King is probably the least interesting of cagles three but the most readable.

Notify me of new comments via email. The other way Antigone still speaks to us is, of course, ideology.

They are all parts of the same story but each stands alone — and this is possible because the audience knew the story already. Oedipus is the criminal, the investigator, the prosecutor, the judge, and the executioner, and the punishment he inflicts on himself for failing to abide by his own laws, even accidentally, is less merciful than the gods would have roberg.


But is that enough to justify one of the central curses of Greek mythology? His downfall is not through his worst features, but through faglds best — his reason, his dedication to the truth, his honesty. You are commenting using your WordPress. Perhaps Oedipus is not meant to be seen as wholly rational at this point.

In the earlier two plays, people doubt the gods — nobody does in the third. What can we appreciate? Like Antigone in the earlier play, Oedipus offers several explanations and none content me — perhaps, indeed, that is the point. Post was not sent – check your email addresses!

Oedipus, like Jesus, is the scapegoat who takes all the sins of man with him into the afterlife — his life is tragic, but he is compensated by the powers of a tranwlated after death. I think that Antigone is meant to be seen as irrational; maybe too Oedipus, and through transllated the war, is meant to be seen a inexplicable.

You are commenting using your Twitter account. This is particularly true of Antigone, who justifies her actions many times over, but never the same way, and by the end seems almost to embrace their robery motivelessness. This mystical, transcendental play becomes more mystical by its unfathomableness, gains greater power by the extent of darkness that supports it and is hidden by it.

The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles | : Books

As Oedipus dies in the play, so too does the Athens of the audience — as it was being written when Sophocles, like Oedipus, could see his own death approachingthe city was engaged in the final existential struggle against Sparta in which the Athenians, with Oedipal hubris, refused to accept the surrender of Sparta even at the verge of their own destructionand by the time the audience could see the play performed, Athens had surrendered, its walls, fleet, port and empire destroyed, and was entirely dependant on the continued mercy of the Spartans.

Oedipus is, frankly, Jesus by this point. Antigonenaturally, is the most immature of the plays, even to an unstudied eye. Yes, Fayles dies, but this seems to improve his standing and power dramatically — and beside, although they speak of his corpse being buried, it seems that in the yb Oedipus simply ascends into heaven.

It is hard not to read the character of Athens into that heroic self-destruction. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.

The Three Theban Plays

They are, in a sense, incomprehensible, at least to me. Every step of the tragedy is made by humans acting from free will. It excells, however, in its construction — yes, there is still a degree of shouting and proclaiming, but it is much more under control than in Antigone. There is a wonderful Athenian hubris in it all — a simultaneous lament over the inevitability of tragedy, its inescapability, its divine predestination, and yet at the same time the total denial of any divine role in it.


The fates are implacable and merciless. The two central characters — Creon and Antigone — both present compelling cases, yet both are also wholly inconsistent.

Sophocles’ Antigone

This makes them very difficult — tobert to understand or to enjoy, but to really assess, with the confidence of somebody who knows what they are looking for. I do use that word advisedly — but I use it because, despite its pagan credentials, this is a play with very Christian parallels.

Are we meant to understand why Oedipus curses his sons? You are commenting using your Facebook account. Modern translations have often shown her as a freedom fighter and Creon as a tyrant — but it is equally valid to read Creon as the realist and Antigone as a suicide bomber. The translation of transslated poetry form alien to me into modern verse for a play, read on the page?

His hubris has no influence on things, and acts only to ironically highlight the tragedy that we know is coming. It is only because Laius believes that if he has a son antigpne son will kill him that he has Oedipus abandoned at birth — otherwise, there would have been no strife between them. Sophocles can hint at something, with a gesture that bears the full weight of his civilisation… and two and a half thousand years later, the hint remains, but the weight is gone, like a single poem surviving to a point where all the rules of poetry it followed have become unknown.

In practice, all the long speeches and easily-roused tempers feel very distant and literary. And so much also is lost without the context of their society — the meanings of things, the importance of things. It is confusing, and it is sophisticated. Oedipus the King is, as I say, less interesting, because it is more understandable. It has a frightening absurdity to it.