Without resorting to the jargon often employed by contemporary critics, this book covers all major aspects and questions raised by the play. The text contains a thorough examination of the contrast between Athens and its dramatic opposite, Thebes, a contrast best represented by the comparison between each city's primary representative, Theseus or Creon. Wilson offers a radical rereading of the Oedipus riddle and concludes with a substantial discussion of the play's (and playwright's) role in providing a political and moral education for the troubled Athenian polis in the last decade of the tumultuous fifth century.
Joseph P. Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Scranton.
Only a few plays by Sophocles—one of the great tragic playwrights from Classical Athens—have survived, and each of them dramatizes events from the rich store of myths that framed literature and art. Sophocles’ treatment evokes issues that were vividly contemporary for Athenian audiences of the Periclean age: How could the Athenians incorporate older, aristocratic ideas about human excellence into their new democratic society? Could citizens learn to be morally excellent, or were these qualities only inherited? What did it mean to be a creature who knows that he or she must die?
Late Sophocles traces the evolution of the Sophoclean hero through the final three plays, Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus. The book’s main thesis, that Sophocles reimagined the nature of the tragic hero in his last three works, is developed inductively through readings of the plays. This balanced approach, in which a detailed argument about the plays is offered in a format accessible to nonspecialists, is unusual—perhaps unique—in contemporary Classical scholarship on Sophocles.
This book will appeal to nonspecialist readers of serious literature as well as scholars of classical and other literatures. While including ample guidance for those not familiar with the plays, Late Sophocles goes beyond a generalized description of “what happens” in the plays to offer a clear, jargon-free argument for the enduring importance of Sophocles’ plays. The argument’s implications for longstanding interpretational issues will be of interest to specialists. All Greek is translated.
Oedipus at Colonus
Sophocles, A verse translation by David Mulroy, with introduction and notes University of Wisconsin Press, 2014 Library of Congress PA4414.O5M85 2014 | Dewey Decimal 882.01
Oedipus at Colonus is the third in Sophocles' trilogy of plays about the famous king of Thebes and his unhappy family. It dramatizes the mysterious death of Oedipus, by which he is transformed into an immortal hero protecting Athens. This was Sophocles' final play, written in his mid-eighties and produced posthumously. Translator David Mulroy's introduction and notes deepen the reader's understanding of Oedipus' character and the real political tumult that was shaking Athens at the time that Sophocles wrote the play. Oedipus at Colonus is at once a complex study of a tragic character, an indictment of Athenian democracy, and a subtle endorsement of hope for personal immortality.
As in his previous translations of Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Mulroy combines scrupulous scholarship and textual accuracy with a fresh poetic style. He uses iambic pentameter for spoken passages and short rhymed stanzas for choral songs, resulting in a text that is accessible and fun to read and perform.