Oedipus at Colonus as a Reflection of the Oresteia: The Abomination from Thebes as an Athenian Hero in the Making

Bierl, Anton. (2019) Oedipus at Colonus as a Reflection of the Oresteia: The Abomination from Thebes as an Athenian Hero in the Making. In: Oedipus at Colonus and King Lear: Classical and Early Modern Intersections, 2. Verona, pp. 165-199.

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Sophocles bases his posthumous Oedipus at Colonus on the famous treatment of the transformation of the Furies to the Kindly Ones in Eumenides , the last play of Aeschylus' Oresteia that has gained the status of a master-play. Accordingly Sophocles shapes the plot and its main character on a cultic reality and on the ritual concept of chthonic heroes and gods. The Erinyes/Eumenides, to whose grove Oedipus arrives, function as the model for Sophocles' most questionable hero. Their quintessential polarity between the dreadful dimension of death and euphemistic names to veil it, between mythic scenarios of anger, curse, hate as well as cultic blessing and plenty is the basic pattern of a play that stages Oedipus as a chthonic hero in the making. He acts right from the beginning as the hero he is going to become. Sophocles makes Oedipus oscillate between staging a real mystic miracle and a problematic manipulation of religious facts in order to take revenge on his Theban homeland by finding support from his new city of Athens. This open perspective involves the audience in thinking about what really happened and reflecting about the relation between ritual, religion, politics, and their manipulations by men for their own purposes. In this way it comes quite close to Euripides' Bacchae written about the same time. OC is thus in many respects like a metatheatrical exploration of the constitutive gap of signifier and signified to be gradually closed by the blind director who gathers, like the blind and unwitting audience, the piecemeal information divulged as the play progresses.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Fachbereich Gräzistik
UniBasel Contributors:Bierl, Anton F.H.
Item Type:Book Section, refereed
Book Section Subtype:Further Contribution in a Book
Series Name:Skenè Studies I
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
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Last Modified:10 Mar 2020 13:38
Deposited On:10 Mar 2020 13:38

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