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The Tangled Ways of ZeusAnd Other Studies In and Around Greek Tragedy$
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Alan H. Sommerstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199568314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.001.0001

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‘They all knew how it was going to end’: tragedy, myth, and the spectator

‘They all knew how it was going to end’: tragedy, myth, and the spectator

Chapter:
(p.209) 15 ‘They all knew how it was going to end’: tragedy, myth, and the spectator
Source:
The Tangled Ways of Zeus
Author(s):

Alan H. Sommerstein (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.003.0016

This chapter begins by emphasizing that, contrary to popular belief, the audience of a Greek tragedy often did not know, in important respects, how the action was going to develop, and examines what they do and do not know at various stages of Sophocles' Oedipus the King. It argues that until Iokaste comes on stage at line 631, the audience cannot be sure that she, Oedipus' mother, is still alive and still married to him; in some earlier and contemporary accounts she had committed suicide much earlier and Oedipus had married again. Two other things that the audience also do not know, even at the very end of the play, are whether Oedipus will go into exile (contrary to tradition) and whether he will curse his sons (according to tradition).

Keywords:   Sophocles, Oedipus, Iokaste, mother, suicide, married, exile, curse

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