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The Oedipus Plays of SophoclesPhilosophical Perspectives$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190669447

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190669447.001.0001

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Aging Oedipus

Aging Oedipus

Chapter:
(p.151) Chapter 6 Aging Oedipus
Source:
The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles
Author(s):

Philip Kitcher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190669447.003.0007

Oedipus at Colonus apparently shows the aging Oedipus finding a fulfilling ending to his life. The play characterizes that fulfillment in terms of a religious perspective few would now accept. This chapter attempts to construct a framework in which to appreciate Sophocles’s last play as a profound human drama (as is Oedipus Tyrannus). The serenity Oedipus achieves is the product of a struggle. As the episodes of the drama, particularly the encounters with Creon and Polynices, reveal, the aging hero retains many of the traits of his younger self, and his equilibrium is consequently precarious. The predicament is central to our experience as we age. Locating the play in relation to other literary works—the New Testament and the poetry of Yeats, Dylan Thomas, and T. S. Eliot—the chapter sees the closing life in terms of a struggle for calm self-acceptance.

Keywords:   Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus, Antigone, Theseus, serenity, struggle, fulfillment, Simeon, Yeats, T. S. Eliot

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