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Oedipus Tyrannus

Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge

Second Edition

Charles Segal

Publication Date - 21 December 2000

ISBN: 9780195133219

208 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge, 2/e, is an accessible yet in-depth literary study of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus (Oedipus Rex)--the most famous Greek tragedy and one of the greatest masterpieces of world literature. This unique volume combines a close, scene-by-scene literary analysis of the text with an account of the play's historical, intellectual, social, and mythical background and also discusses the play's place in the development of the myth and its use of the theatrical conventions of Greek drama. Based on a fresh scrutiny of the Greek text, this book offers a contemporary literary interpretation of the play, including a readable, nontechnical discussion of its underlying moral and philosophical issues; the role of the gods; the interaction of character, fate, and chance; the problem of suffering and meaning; and Sophocles' conception of tragedy and tragic heroism. This lucid guide traces interpretations of the play from antiquity to modern times--from Aristotle to Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, Lévi-Strauss, Girard, and Vernant--and shows its central role in shaping the European conception of tragedy and modern notions of the self. This second edition draws on new approaches to the study of Greek tragedy; discusses the most recent interpretative scholarship on the play; and contains an annotated up-to-date bibliography. Ideal for courses in classical literature in translation, Greek drama, classical civilization, theater, and literature and arts, Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge, 2/e, will also reward general readers interested in literature and especially tragedy.

About the Author(s)

Charles Segal is Walter C. Klein Professor of the Classics at Harvard University.

Previous Publication Date(s)

January 1993

Table of Contents

    Preface to the Second Edition
    A Note on References and Acknowledgments
    1. Introduction
    2. Historical and Cultural Background
    3. Performance, Theater, and Social Context
    4. The Oedipus Myth and Its Interpretation
    5. Oedipus and the Trials of the Hero
    6. Life's Tragic Shape: Plot, Design, and Destiny
    7. The Crisis of the City and the King
    8. Discovery and Reversal
    9. Resolution: Tragic Suffering, Heroic Endurance
    10. Inner Vision and Theatrical Spectacle
    11. "To Look upon the Light for the Last Time": The Place of Oedipus Tyrannus in Sophocles' Work
    12. Reception, Influence, and Recent Literary Criticism
    Selected bibliography