Self-knowledge: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and the Greek Polis


I.                    Sophocles (496-406 BCE) and Fifth Century Athens

A.     Athenian Democracy

B.     Athenian Imperialism

C.     The Rights and Responsibilities of a Citizen

D.     Sophocles’ Duty as Strategos

II.                 Debate and Drama

A.     Greek Drama

B.     Contests and Contexts

C.     Homer’s Crumbs

D.     The Ritual for Dionysus

E.      Revelry and Respect

F.      Apollo and Dionysus

III. Oedipus Rex and Greek Thought

A.     Confronting the Past

B.     The Riddle of the Sphinx

C.     The Reluctant Tiresias

D.     The Greek Mind

E.      Knowledge and Pain

F.      Dialogue and Reason

IV. Prophecy and Fate

A.     The Punishment and the Crime

B.     Character and Knowledge

C.     Hamartia (Flaw) and Hubris (Pride)

D.     Peripatea (Reversal) and Anagnorsis (Discovery)

E.      Taboo

F.      Self-consciousness

V. Midterm Review: The Works

A.     Gilgamesh

B.     The Exaltation of Inanna by Enheduanna

C.     Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey

D.     The Hebrew Bible: Genesis 6-9 and Job

E.      Sappho’s Poems

F.      Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

VI. The Times and Places

A.     The Ancient Near East: c. 2500-1500 BCE

B.     Israel, c. 1000-300BCE

C.     Ancient Greece

1.      Homer, c. 750-800 BCE

2.      Sappho, c. 630 BCE

3.      Sophocles, 496-406 BCE

VII. The Major Themes

A.     Leadership

B.     Mortality

C.     God and Divine Punishment

D.     War, Rage, and Justice

E.      Rank and Merit

VIII. The Forms

A.     The Literary Epic

B.     The Prayer or Hymn

C.     The Sacred Text

D.     The Oral Epic

E.      The Lyric

F.      The Play