Beth's Reviews > Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King by Sophocles
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Oct 09, 11

bookshelves: reading-for-school, october-2011, 2011-reads, september-2011, classic
Read on October 09, 2011

4.5 stars

"Count no man happy 'til he dies, free of pain at last."

Oedipus the King is sad but brutal, a very dark but moving tale that we think we all know -- but actually reading it, especially the raw emotion that is encapsulated in those last few pages, is crushing. This is the true definition of Greek tragedy, so any criticism I could heap on it seems very twenty-first century and almost inapplicable. However, I did take a star off because it measures my personal enjoyment -- the latter half of the play, from when the messenger emerges to say that Oedipus has blinded himself, is pure five-star material, a hammer to the heart.

Until then, Oedipus is a bit of a total assshole. I don't mean in his determination for the truth, or even his ignorance about the revelation - seriously, if you thought your real parents were hundreds of miles away, would it be easy for you to acknowledge the concept that you could have run away and still somehow wound up married to your mother? I've read critical essays about Oedipus, and I'm not trying to say he had a 'fatal flaw' or anything, because he wasn't that insufferable with it all, but if there was a key problem with Oedipus the King, I felt that it was just too short. I didn't get enough of a rounded picture and I wanted more of Jocasta and Oedipus's marriage for the eventual revelation to have absolute resonance. Still, excellent, and it's not hard to see why it's a classic of Greek tragedy.
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