Friday, 28 September 2007

Greek Mythology: Oedipus, the Tragic Hero

Oedipus, the most tragic hero in Greek mythology.
The first written references to Oedipus appear in the 7th-8th century B.C.
His father, Laius learned from an oracle ( prophecy) that he would die by his son’s hand. So when his son was born he bound and pierced his feet and left him to his fate on a mountain.
A shepherd found him and named him “Oedipus” which means “ swollen foot”.
The King of Corinth, having no heir, raised him as his own. Oedipus, after reaching manhood, learned from another oracle that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He believed that the King and Queen of Corinth were his mother and father, and to escape this terrible fate, he left home.
While on his travels he came across a chariot with an old man and an attendant. For some or other reason an argument ensued an Oedipus killed both men. The first part of the oracle was fulfilled, as the old man was his father, Laius.
Continuing his journey to Thebes he came upon the Sphinx. To pass her one had to answer a riddle. Those who failed to answer correctly were eaten. To rid themselves of this monster the Thebeans offered the vacant throne and the hand of Queen Jocasta of Thebes to the person who killed the Sphinx.
The Sphinx asked Oedipus the following riddle:
“ What animal walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three at night?”
Oedipus correctly answered:
“ Man, for in the morning, the infancy of his life, he creeps on all fours, at noon, in his prime, he walks on two feet: and when the darkness of old age comes over him, he uses a stick for better support as a third foot”.
The Sphinx threw herself over a cliff and perished.
He married Jocasta and became King. The country was then devastated by a plague. To rid the Kingdom of the plague the murderer of Laius had to be banished. Oedipus then found out that he had killed his father and married his mother.
His mother hanged herself, and Oedipus “put out his own eyes” and wandered away with his daughter, Antigone.
It would appear as though he later died in battle.
Sigmund Freud used the name The Oedipus complex to explain the origin of certain neuroses in childhood. It is defined as a male child's unconscious desire for the exclusive love of his mother. This desire includes jealousy towards the father and the unconscious wish for that parent's death. : Wikipedia
None of these emotions, as used by Freud, are evident from the old writings

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