chapter  5
7 Pages

The 'Oedipus Tyrannus'

At the beginning of the play Oedipus is the great King who has saved Thebes in the past and is their only hope now; no one can compare with Oedipus in reading dark secrets. At the end, he is the polluted outcast, himself the cause of the city's distress, through crimes predicted by Apollo before he was born. Is this grim determinism e Is Sophocles telling us that Man is only the plaything of Fate? Or does he mean, as Bowra suggested.' no more than that the gods have contrived this awful fate for Oedipus in order to display their power to man and to teach him a salutary lesson? Or is Sophocles simply making exciting drama, leaving the philosophical implications unexplored? There is only one way of finding out. Whatever Sophocles meant, he put his meaning into the play, and to get it out again we must contemplate the play - all of it, in all its aspects; not bits ofit, and some of its aspects.