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The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus at Colonus / Antigone (The Theban Plays #1–3)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  43,722 ratings  ·  827 reviews
(1939 translation)
Paperback, 259 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Mariner Books (first published -400)
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'Take these things to heart, my son, I warn you.
All men make mistakes, it is only human.
But once the wrong is done, a man
can turn his back on folly, misfortune too,
if he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen,
and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness
brands you for stupidity – pride is a crime.
No, yield to the dead!
Never stab the fighter when he’s down.
Where’s the glory, killing the dead twice over?”

(Tiresias, the blind prophet, to Creon, king of Thebes, uncle of Antigone in ‘Antigone
Sophocles Theban play cycle, Antigone, Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus, spans the length of his career as a playwright. Traditionally, Antigone is placed at the end of the cycle, but chronologically it was the first that Sophocles wrote. I think this offers a big key to interpreting the plays as a whole. This key has to do with the evolution of Athenian society and how the subject-matters dealt with in the plays relate to the rapid growth and decay that Democratic Athens experienced—a period ...more
*Note: I only read Oedipus Rex and Antigone, not Oedipus at Colonus.

There is literally nothing I could tell you about these plays that you don't already know from the thousands of books and movies that have referenced or been influenced by Oedipus ever since it was first performed. Four stars for overall story and dramatic themes, two stars because I didn't find it a very engaging or enjoyable read, averaged out to a nice three. Five stars for literary importance, though.

The self-fulfilling prop
This Robert Fagles translation is beautiful--far superior to other versions I've read (Fitts/Fitzgerald or David Greene's, for instance). The language is vibrant and compelling, an important asset for reading drama on the page. If you've not read Sophocles since a forced-and-indifferent slog during high school, I'd encourage you to rediscover it in a better light with this translation. Highly recommended.

This was my first time reading all three "Oedipus plays" in succession, and I appreciated th
علی‌رضا میم
کتاب خیلی عالی و فوق العاده بود.
از کتابهایی که سخت میشد زمین گذاشت. متن بسیار روان بود.مضامین و مفاهیمش هم علی رغم اینکه متن حدود دوهزار سال قبل نویسانده شده، بسیار ناب و دست اولند.

از سه بخش تشکیل شده کتاب.
بخش اول مواجهه ادیپوس به سرنوشت و تقدیری که از آن فراری بود.
بخش دوم مرگ ادیپوس و بخش سوم کشته شدن آنتیگنه.

خمیر مایه اصلی داستان فرار از تقدیر انسانیهو ادیپوس پیشگویی معبد دلفی در مورد سرنوشت شوم خودش رو میدونه. و هرچه که سعی میکنه که ازش فرار کنه، ناگهان در لحظهای که نفس راحتی میکشه، با کنجکاو
I thoroughly enjoyed this translation of Sophocles Theban plays. Robert Fagles placed the plays in the order written, rather than in their dramatic chronology. At first I thought this was strange, but I followed his lead and read 'Antigone' first. Now, after reading Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus, I have a much greater feeling for Antigone's suffering and a much better understanding of Creon's perspective as well. Now I'm ready to re-read Antigone better armed with the facts of their re ...more
Justin Evans
So... not over-rated. Fagles' translation is solid, much clearer than his Aeschylus, though I actually prefer the opacity he brought to that text. Of course, that might have been in Aeschylus. I will never learn Greek well enough to tell.

Antigone was the earliest of these plays, though the last within the narrative. I can't help but read it with my Hegel glasses on: the clash between Creon and Antigone is an example of a failed conceptual grasp of the world, in which the claims on us of family/
Ahmad Sharabiani
Oedipus tyrannus coloneus and Antigone, Sophocles
عنوان: سه نمایشنامه : اودیپوس شاه، اودیپوس در کولونوس، آنتیگون؛ مترجم: محمد سعیدی؛ زیرنظر: احسان یارشاطر؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، نخستین بار سال 1334، در 196 ص؛
عنوان: افسانه های تبای؛ اثر: سوفوکلس؛ ترجمه: شاهرخ مسکوب؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، خوارزمی، 1352، در 376 ص، شابک: 9644870328؛ چاپ دوم 1356، چاپ چهارم 1385، موضوع: ادیپ، نمایشنامه، اساطیر یونان، قرن پنج پیش از میلاد
افسانه های تبای، اثر ماندگار ادیب مشهور یونانی سوفوکلس هستند. در یادداشتی
So, what did we learn? Circle one

1. Embrace any prophecy, as fighting against it will only make it come true
2. Always give way to anyone playing chicken with you on the road
3. Stay in school and pay special attention to "riddles," because only smart people end up with a good career as a king
4. Don't marry the widows of any king, unless you have her DNA checked
5. If you accidentally marry your mother, don't tell her because she will hang herself
6. If you have two brothers, don't break the law in
Rachel Lightwood
Oedipus Rex was the only play I read out of this anthology of Sophoclean tragedies. It was surprisingly quite amusing. I thought it would be more... well, tragic really. The ugly sobbing kind of tragedy - Titanic style. But instead it read like a soap opera. The drama scale was beyond imaginable. We had people dying and crying left, right and centre. It was fantastic!

The writing was good too. It had the feel of a ancient Shakespearean play but was much more "readable". There was no need to have
دوستی از دیرباز به من آموخته بود اگر گمان بردی که مالک سرنوشت خویش شده ای نگاهی به سرنوشت های غمالوده کتاب
زندگی بیاند سرنوشت ادیپ مردی شرافتمند که از قبل مرگش سرنوشتش مشخص است و والدینش که ازین جغد شوم در هراسند سعی در فرار از ان میکنند خود ادیپ هم چنین میکند ولی اخر دست چیره ی سرنوشت تمامیشان را به قهقرای زوال میکشاند و مردم تبای که ادیپ را از خود میرانند و همچون بازیچه ای، زمانی که از سرنوشت شهر خویش در هراس میافتند انها باز تلاش میکنند تا ادیپ را بازگردانند تا مگر اسودگی خاطرشان را باز بیابن
Steven Peterson
The Theban plays are extraordinarily rich in their observations on the human condition; let us consider lessons to be drawn from these.

The first tragedy, King Oedipus, begins with the city of Thebes suffering great afflictions. King Oedipus swears that he will find the cause of the evil and improve the lot of the Thebans. His uncle, Creon, found that the pestilence would be lifted when the murderer of the previous king, Laius, was brought to justice. Oedipus immediately ordered that the killer
Edward Waters
Most English translations of, say, the Greek New Testament are shepherded by a conviction that the original words had divine inspiration and so are best rendered verbatim wherever possible. At the same time, there generally is a concession (for good or ill) to the reality that if what results is not sufficiently lofty and reverential in tone, the faithful are unlikely to accept it. Attempts at classical Greek drama and poetry tend to be guided by rather different considerations: The translator's ...more
Steve Hemmeke
Really depressing.

The major theme is that you can't avoid the fate of the gods, even if you try. The upside is, even if you draw a short straw, you can still be pious and reverent toward the gods, and wise and loving to your family.

Oedipus definitely drew a short straw. That doesn't mean his life was short, though. He lives a long life, and the last decade or so is all agony over his bizarre circumstance.

In part one we learn about that craziness. Key theme is the truth. The truth will come out.
That. Was. Awesome!
This story (Antigone) was so beautiful, but awful and tragic. (I know it's a tragedy, but God its depressing) (ω)

The characters were all really developed and even though at the beginning I disliked Creon, I felt utterly awful for him at the end. I'm confused to where Ismene went at the end of the play, and what her reaction to xxxxxxxx's death was, and I didn't really get Tiresias' prophecy either, but that didn't effect the story for me. (I must stop rambling)
In conclusion, t
What a brutal, awful world it was for the pagans. They believed in gods who, for no reason at all, sentenced men to arbitrary acts of inhumanity--even so designed as to be done unknowingly, yet with terrifying consequences.

The story of Oedipus and his family is simply awful. It makes for an interesting story, but the fact that the Greeks believed the world was so ordered that such things occurred demonstrates their own spiritual blindness and willful ignorance of the order of grace and justice o
Sherry Elmer
I remember reading Oedipus the King and Antigone as a student. I don't remember at what age or with which teacher, but I do remember having the plays "explained" to us--Oedipus was tragic because of his "fatal flaw," a bad temper. Antigone was heroic because she made up her mind to do what she thought right even in the face of death. I wish I could read these plays now without having heard the "explanation."

This time around, one of the things that struck me the most was how many similarities t
Reading the Theban plays in Fagles translation takes me back to the overwhelming tension at the heart of Oedipus Rex. The character of Oedipus is the centre of the play, and the great questions: why he wants to fathom the mystery of his origins and why he keeps going. Freud's reading is unfortunate because it is so literal and tends to colour our view of the myth itself. It's a broader exploration of our relationship with the past: the desire to see and know what it contains, even when the knowl ...more

Your Name: Julie Barnard
Date: 1/4/10

Main Characters in the Text (if there are multiple works within one text, name the work, followed by the characters):

Genre of the work (play, novel, poem, etc.):


Action of the work or the sequence of events (if there are multiple works within one text, name the work and only include the most important events):

Action sequences include when Oedipus kills the king of Thebes (without knowing he is the k
Ana Lo
King Oedipus

Your Name: Ana Lo
Date: 1/04/10

Main Characters in the Text (if there are multiple works within one text, name the work, followed by the characters):
• King Oedipus
o Oedipus
o Jocosta
o Teiresias
o Creon
o The Chorus
• Anigone
o Antigone
o Creon
o Ismene
o Haemon

Genre of the work (play, novel, poem, etc.):
- A Play

- The City of Thebes

Action of the work or the sequence of events (if there are multiple works within one text, name the work and only include the most im
Nicholas Whyte
Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus The Tyrant, Oedipus at Colonus (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) (Wordsworth Classics)… by Sophocles

This is the Wordsworth Classics edition of Antigone / Ἀντιγόνη, Oedipus the Tyrant / Οιδίπους Τύραννος and Oedipus at Colonus / Οἰδίπους ἐπὶ Κολωνῷ, all translated by Jamey Hecht. I took them fairly slowly, to let the blank verse translation sink gently into my mind.

I found Antigone / Ἀντιγόνη the most politicall
Sophocles really knew how to make a tragedy that's for sure.

the first play plods along nicely and then you are hit with a real shocker, it is quite moving and you do feel for Oedipus.

The second play was pretty weak, this may just be me struggling with understanding what's going on but it seems that Oedipus gets told a prophecy and then just carries it out. It feels like Sophocles was a bit stuck for ideas.

The final play is back to being very good, lots happening and a crazy amount of death.

I ha
Christina Morden
I only had to read Oedipus The King for school, but I decided to read all three Theban plays while I was at it.

Oedipus The King was the best by far. It just has the most happen in it I suppose. I wasn't too crazy about the writing style, but I've never enjoyed reading plays.

The Greek Mythology part of this made me happy though and I loved applying prior knowledge to places, people, and concepts.
Jeni Enjaian
I'll start this review by saying that I am definitely not the target audience. While I enjoy attending the occasional play and love Shakespeare, I find that reading most plays leaves something to be desired. That being said, I found this particular plays very limited in scope. Perhaps that's due to both the genre and the time in which they were written. The plot was incredibly easy to predict. (Although I suspect that even the mildest familiarity with Greek mythology will render the plots of the ...more
Becca Laya
I read this a while ago---- it is beautifully written. The greek chorus is always my favorite part for some reason.

- oedipus is a really messed up story
Poses interesting moral questions and tells a good story.
Brilliant work on the part of Sophocles who was a man of wide experience within Greek society. These plays played a prominent religious role at the festivals and the tone of Antigone in particular seems religious to me. The gods' laws for the burial of the dead were transgressed and Creon has 3 chances to amend his unrighteous edict: 1. Antigone's plea, 2. Haemon's plea, and 3. Tiresias' prophetic warning. His heart eventually turns with the impending personal doom, but it is too late: He has at ...more
Jaylen Allen
Jaylen Allen
May 12, 2015

Everybody’s beliefs can be totally different, some people might be Muslim, Catholic Christian or some even just be superficial. In this case I am Christian, I believe that there is something more powerful than any man and I always will. In the book Oedipus the King by Sophocles, the people lived their lives based off of what an Oracle tells them. The Thebes people strictly live their life based off fate. The king and queen of Thebes never doubt the pr
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Carlson 2341.06 F...: * Prophecy in Oedipus the King 47 28 Sep 04, 2015 10:14PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please revise book description 3 16 Aug 04, 2015 08:39PM  
Greek Plays are very epic 3 14 Aug 31, 2014 12:37PM  
conflict 5 41 Jun 13, 2012 07:58PM  
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Sophocles (Greek: Σοφοκλής; German editions: Sophokles, Russian: Софокл) was an ancient Greek tragedy playwright. Not many things are known about his life other than that he was wealthy, well educated and wrote about one hundred and twenty three plays (of which few are extant). One of his best known plays is 'Oedipus the King' (Oedipus Rex).
More about Sophocles...

Other Books in the Series

The Theban Plays (3 books)
  • Oedipus Rex
  • Oedipus at Colonus
  • Antigone

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“All men make mistakes.” 23 likes
“If through no fault of his own the hero is crushed by a bulldozer in Act II, we are not impressed. Even though life is often like this—the absconding cashier on his way to Nicaragua is killed in a collision at the airport, the prominent statesman dies of a stroke in the midst of the negotiations he has spent years to bring about, the young lovers are drowned in a boating accident the day before their marriage—such events, the warp and woof of everyday life, seem irrelevant, meaningless. They are crude, undigested, unpurged bits of reality—to draw a metaphor from the late J. Edgar Hoover, they are “raw files.” But it is the function of great art to purge and give meaning to human suffering, and so we expect that if the hero is indeed crushed by a bulldozer in Act II there will be some reason for it, and not just some reason but a good one, one which makes sense in terms of the hero’s personality and action. In fact, we expect to be shown that he is in some way responsible for what happens to him.” 23 likes
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