Robert Fagles Translation Of Oedipus The King

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The introduction to Robert Fagles’ translation of Oedipus the King presents a critical analysis by Bernard Knox exploring the importance and significance of this ancient Greek tragedy. A sense of connection to the character and the relevance of the plot to the audiences’ lives yield a meaningful and lasting impression. The celebrated Greek tragedian, Sophocles, effectively employs a wide range of storytelling techniques to explore universal questions and fears experienced by individuals throughout history. Oedipus the King is still recognised as the “dramatic masterpiece of Greek theatre” (131) because of its relatable characters, engaging plot, and universally controversial matters which draw the audience back time after time. Countless…show more content…
Sophocles’ play introduces a plague, which wreaks havoc in Thebes similar to ones common in ancient Greece. As “cattle sicken and die, and the women die in labour” (l. 32-33) in the plague-infested city, further pity and fear are aroused in those viewers who have experienced similar circumstances. The costume choices in the Stratford production lend a contemporary twist to the ancient play. The utilization of suits, rather than traditional Greek robes, illustrates the theme of our modern workplace in order to visually engage the audience and provide a parallel to their everyday lives. Furthermore, the limited use of enlightenment sets Oedipus the King apart from many other tragedies, allowing viewers to better understand the characters’ motives. The only external influences used are gods, as they served a significant purpose for decision making during Sophocles’ time, influencing wealth and politics. Thus, Athenians would be better able to understand the significance Apollo’s oracle. Although gods still play a major role in the play, it is the actions and ignorance of Oedipus that result in his own downfall. This limitation of mythical, external influences generates a logical and human plot for viewers to…show more content…
During the fifth century, the opposition of fate and free will arose through prophecies powered by religions. Oracles, such as Apollo’s, were especially controversial, since they had the ability to dictate one’s destiny. Despite Oedipus’ best efforts, the fulfillment of Apollo’s prophecy to murder his father and marry his mother proves that divine foreknowledge cannot be disregarded. Knox points out that the two ways to avoid the contradiction are through the radical approaches of complete order and pattern or freedom. Although it avoids the conflict, his system does not satisfy people’s longing for both freedom and order because acceptance of one totally eliminates the other. France suggests that ignoring foreknowledge is the key to expanding one’s freedom. Oedipus illustrates France’s model, as his seeming ignorance eventually proves to be the cause of his defeat. This Greek tragedy teaches us that there is no way to escape or alter one’s fate, but rather one should make the best of what is given. Rather than being pitied for the whims of fate, Oedipus’ dedication to the search for truth makes him a heroic figure. The makeup of the material allows us to recognize the strength of destiny and how it might have been

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