The legends surrounding Oedipus of Thebes and his ill-fated offspring provide the subject matter for Sophocles’ three greatest plays, which together represent Greek drama at the pinnacle of its achievement.
Oedipus the King, the most famous of the three, has been characterized by critics from Aristotle to Coleridge as the perfect exemplar of the art of tragedy, in its unforgettable portrayal of a man’s failed attempt to escape his fate. In Oedipus at Colonus, the blind king finds his final release from the sufferings the gods have brought upon him, and Antigone completes the downfall of the House of Cadmus through the actions of Oedipus’s magnificent and uncompromising daughter defending her ideals to the death. All three of The Theban Plays, while separate, self-contained dramas, draw from the same rich well of myth and showcase Sophocles’ enduring power. Translated by David Grene.
Sophocles, the Greek tragic dramatist, was born at Colonus near Athens about 496 B.C. Although hopelessness and misfortune plague the characters in his great plays, Sophocles’s own life was a long, prosperous one. He was from a good family, well… More about Sophocles
“[Oedipus the King] is Sophocles’ most famous play and the most celebrated play of Greek drama . . . Aristotle cites it as the best model for a tragic plot . . . Freud recognized the play’s power to dramatize the process by which we uncover hidden truths about ourselves . . . Sophocles is more interested in how Oedipus pieces together the isolated fragments of his past to discover who and what he is and in tracing the hero’s response to this new vision of himself.”—from the Introduction by Charles Segal