From Ancient Authors to a Modern Interpretation: An Analysis of the Wretched King Oedipus
Muto, Alanna C.
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learned about the most famous author to pen the legend, Sophocles, and about his three Theban plays that outline his detailed version of the tale. Yet his was not the first version of the myth to appear; Homer appears among the list of authors who wrote about the Theban king, first among many-though his account was the shortest to be found. After Homer first penned the tale, so do did many others: Euripides, a contemporary of Sophocles, wrote about Oedipus in his Phoinissai, Pindar mentioned him in his second Olympian Ode, and Aeschylus told the tale in his own Oedipus trilogy of plays. Yet, of so many authors, I could only choose a few. Therefore I chose Homer, because he was earliest and Sophocles because his version of the myth is so well-known. Then, I chose two mythographers and a scholar, to round out my examination of the myth-for they each offered a unique tale or an interesting additional detail to the Oedipus myth. Thus, chronologically, I examined next the mythographers who, in a rather humorous manner, were hard to place in the annals of history themselves: Apollodorus and Hyginus, from whom little survives but somewhat truncated outlines of the tale. For my last, I discovered a man who claimed Oedipus for Egypt, making the king an import into Grecian lore. Here, Oedipus was the pharaoh Akhnaton, whose life did seem to mirror the Theban king's in quite a number of places. Yet, despite the different time periods and writers, Oedipus' tale did not change-his story never deviated from the sole piece of information I knew at the beginning: he married his mother and killed his father, (even if only symbolically as in Akhnaton}.