Xenophon Hendrix's Reviews > Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
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's review
Nov 12, 2009

it was ok
Read in November, 2009

I found three different online translations of Oedipus the King and read them in parallel to help assure I was getting most of the nuances. Hmmm. When I rate something extremely old like this, I ask myself, what would happen if a modern playwright wrote something similar? My best guess at the answer is that he wouldn't have any chance at all of getting it produced. It's rather dull, and what characterization it has lacks subtlety.

Of course, from another point of view, that judgment is entirely unfair. This is a drama that hails from nearly the time of the creation of drama. This is what taught our contemporary writers many of their techniques--irony, plot twists. Judging an ancient play by modern standards is ludicrous. True, but it makes the point that those who rate it highly give it a whole lot of credit for being first. As an artifact from the past, it is interesting and educational. As entertainment judged with no handicapping, even modern television writers routinely do better.

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