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October 06, 2006

Charina's quote commentary on Oedipus

Charina Hansen
Section 4
"Oedipus the King"
page 31 lines 233-240

"the death stain spreads
so many corpses lie in the streets everywhere
nobody grieves for them
the city dies and young wives
and mothers gray-haired mothers wail
sob on the alter steps
they come from the city everywhere mourning their bitter days"

In this passage, the chorus (the elders) are speaking of the plague which is ruining their city. This quote is significant in that it could symbolically represent human nature. Sophocles makes a contrast between the emotions surrounding the dying people (none) and those people feel for themselves (they are mourning). Throughout the play, although Oedipus is concerned with fulfilling the prophecy, one gets the sense that he is more concerned with himself-he accuses Kreon of conspiring against him and also of having killed Laios. Rather than being concerned about his people suffering from the plague or the death of their past king, Oedipus is concerned for himself-his reputation or image to the Thebans. This quote is representative of how people can be more concerned about their own lives than of those who are already in trouble.

Posted by charina at October 6, 2006 04:34 PM

Comments

Interesting comment!

You could have done more observation of the words themselves though. Let's pay attention to the sound of the words -- notice the long-drawn-out "er" sounds like sighs ("hair", "everywhere", "bitter", "mother"), and the groaning "gr" sounds ("grieve", "gray") -- which create a mournful landscape of sound, in keeping with the sense of what is being described in the passage itself.

Posted by: bhattach at October 9, 2006 01:24 AM

Upon reading this passage, the first thing that struck me was the power of translation. Surely, that passage had been interpreted in many different ways and all had their own specific feel. The poeticism of the words this time is truly powerful and credit is due to both Sophocles and Berg and Clay. I also agree with your commentary. Again, Sophocles and Berg and Clay slyly delve into the mind of Oedipus by making him seem so defensive, thus showing his inner worries.

Posted by: glittler at October 9, 2006 04:47 PM

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