Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Seriously, the gods kind of suck
I read Antigone in high school but somehow missed out on the rest of the Oedipus Trilogy until this week. I found all of the plays fascinating, and all of them were simple and arresting reads, but holy shit are the pantheon of Greek gods assholes.
I guess since the morality of the time was based around a system of fate, where sometimes you were up and sometimes you were down, the audiences of the era wouldn't be as put off by the idea that the most powerful beings in the universe were essentially saying "fuck this dude in particular, but everyone else is cool."
Oedipus Rex sets up the action - the titular character has already killed his dad and fucked his mom so the whole of the play is based on him discovering this fact. There's some great foreshadowing as he unwittingly curses his own head and it's really moving when he realizes exactly how much he's screwed himself over.
Oedipus at Colonus is the play that I knew the least about but found the most interesting - it completely revolves around the concept of the unsinning sinner, one who has done terrible things that, were they done by ANYONE else, would not be unforgivable but who never intended to do unforgivable things. Antigone is sympathetic in this play more than she is in the one that bears her name but it sets her up as a lady who gets things done and takes no shit, a theme that is later expanded upon. I am a bit perplexed by the changes in narrative - it seems like a lot of the things that happened in the first play are twisted in the second; at the end of Oedipus Rex I thought that Oedipus willingly left and beggared himself but in Oedipus at Colonus he accuses both Creon and Polynieces of banishing him and putting him in beggar's weeds. It seems like, since neither of them were the ones in the throne at the time, they couldn't have really been responsible. There are a couple of other deviations that are similar, but slighter, throughout the story.
Antigone is the story of a lady who is thoroughly sick of everyone's shit. I can't recommend it enough. Creon really shows himself to be an asshole, more so than in the other plays, and Antigone not only calls him on it but uses his own actions to destroy his life. It kicks ass and I approve.
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Tans. F. Storr. Harvard University Press. Cambridge: Massachusetts. 1912.
Sophocles. Oedipus at Colonus. Tans. F. Storr. Harvard University Press. Cambridge:
Sophocles. Antigone. Tans. F. Storr. Harvard University Press. Cambridge: Massachusetts. 1912.