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on 27 June 2017
First Greek tragedy I have read. Loved it.
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on 21 November 2005
Oedipus the King is one of the classic works of Western literature. It was originally written as a play in around 429 BC by Sophocles (~496-406 BC), a Greek philosopher and playwright. It took the Greek world by storm, and has been handed down to future generations who have also been greatly influenced by it. Most notably in modern times, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) took this work as pointing toward a deep-rooted psychosis, the Oedipus Complex.
Oedipus the King (also known as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus Tyrannus) is the story of Oedipus, the king of Thebes, which is suffering under a horrific plague. Finding out that the god Apollo has laid the plague on the city until it should punish the murderer of its previous king, Oedipus pronounces a curse on the murderer and sets out to discover who the murderer was. Sadly for Oedipus, there is fate upon fate wrapped up in this mystery, and doom upon doom.
This book, is not merely a translation of Oedipus the King, instead it is an "acting version," created by the Stratford Shakespearian Festival Company of Canada for High School level students. The book begins with an introduction to Sophocles and Greek theatre, and after the play are copious notes, critical excerpts and questions for discussion. The play itself was written so that a young reader, with no background understanding of Greek theatre or culture will understand it.
Overall, I found this to be a great book. I enjoyed the information about the play a lot, and believe that it will be very helpful to any reader. But, foremost, I enjoyed the play itself. The story is powerful, and quite enthralling. I have never seen this play acted out, but do think that this translation would make it excellent. I loved this book, and highly recommend it!
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on 16 November 2002
"Oedipus The King" ("Oedipus Rex") is not only the most read of all the Greek tragedies, it is also the most misread of the Greek dramas. The play's reputation exists in part because it was presented as the paragon of the dramatic form by Aristotle in his "Poetics," and it may well be because of that fact that "Oedipus The King" was one of the relatively few plays by Sophocles to be passed down from ancient times. When I have taught Greek tragedies in various classes students have reconsidered the play in terms of key concepts such as harmartia ("tragic error of judgment"), angonrisis ("recognition"), peripeteia ("reversal"), catharsis, etc., and they usually agree this play provides the proverbial textbook examples of these terms.
However, I was always bothered by the fact that Sophocles engages in some rather heavy-handed foreshadowing regarding the fact that the play's tragic hero is going to blind himself before the conclusion. The lines were closer to, dare I say, sophomoric humor than eloquently setting up the climax. But then I read something very, very interesting in Homer's "Iliad," where there appears a single reference to Oedipus which suggests that he died in battle. Remember now that Homer's epics were written several hundred years before Sophocles was born and that the Greek playwrights were allowed to take great liberties with the various myths (consider the three different versions of the death of Clytemnestra at the hands of Orestes we have from Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus). The Athenian audience would know its Homer, but "Oedipus The King" was a new play.
This leads me to advance a very interesting possibility: the Greek audience did not know that Oedipus was going to blind himself. This was a new idea. Jocasta (Iocasta) appears in the "Odyssey" when Odysseus visits Hades, but the only mention of the sin involved is in her marriage to her son, nothing about his being blind.
Obviously you will have to make your own judgment about my hypotheses, but I have to think it is at least worth consideration.
Still, there is the fact that because even those who do not know the play know the story about the man who killed his father and married his mother, "Oedipus The King" is usually misread by students. Because they know the curse they miss something very important: the curse that the oracle at Delphi tells Oedipus is not the same curse that was told to his parents (you can, to quote Casey Stengel, "look it up"). As in his play "Antigone," where the main character is not the title figure but Creon, Sophocles makes Jocasta more than a mere supporting character in this tragedy.
Consequently, while there is no need for me to convince you that "Oedipus The King" is a great play and the epitome of Greek tragedy, I have hopefully given you a couple of things to consider when next you use this play in class.
P.S. You can also play the cherubs Tom Lehrer's song for the movie version of "Oedipus The King." That will broaden their horizons in a totally unexpected direction.
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on 19 November 2000
As Sophocles has done in many plays of his, again in this one he challenges the reader to seek the answers to some commonly discussed topics such as destiny. The play handles the concept of destiny very successfully and therefore is a guide to understanding how the loss or the presence of destiny could change our actions or what happens to us in the future. Is it true that whatever we do we are unable to defeat destiny? That is the main question that rose as I read the book. The language of this play is very simple and can be understood by any people who are interested in provoking thoughts.
A great masterpiece everyone should have. Everyone who is interested faith and destiny, and of course ancient Greece should read this book to see the Greek philosophers points of view at those times.
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on 27 November 2011
This version is more than a translation of the original -- Steven Berg (poet) and Distin Clay (classical scholar)have formulated a new poem based faithfully in the old, respecting the drama, poetry, energy and humanity as well as the literal meaning of the original. As neither a scholar nor a poet, I believe that this is the play that Sophocles would have written in the modern english language and I look forward to its performance.
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on 20 June 2015
Prophecy and fate feature in key roles, and perhaps a moral of it should be – do not try and cheat your fate for you will fail, and fail disastrously. Oedipus – a man who should have everything including a loving wife, a palace, and a reputation for bravery – attempts to cheat the seers who prophecy he will murder his father and marry his mother. Although the cast is fairly small and the action is over a short time, with reference to past events, it pulls in the reader quickly. One soon begins to feel for Oedipus, although he is somewhat arrogant, and by the end of the play the tragedy is all pervasive. Death, shame, fate and the whim of the gods – just what a reader needs for perhaps one of the most well-known and tragic stories from antiquity, Oedipus Rex is a play of epic proportions.
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on 18 February 2011
We are currently studying King Lear in my A level English class and have to use Oedipus Rex as a secondary text. This edition was handed out to us and was better than some of the others I've seen. The play itself was actually quite good; and surprisingly it hadn't gone 'out of date': the story was understandable and you are able to feel the tragedy and anguish of the characters.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 September 2014
This is currently the "approved" text of the board for the exams the house teenager is sitting.
It looks quite approachable, is a decent-enough little book for durability and legibility and thank the stars it's a sensible price for a student text.

Ol' Sophocles needs to work on his humour a bit though. This was not the rip-roaring barrel of laughs I was hoping it was going to be and his idea of "happy ever after" is hardly congruent with mine.
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on 23 July 2015
Had to buy this for English didn't I. Read it in lessons, studied it. I've failed English now. Make what you want of this review, I don't care because my life is over now anyway.
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on 26 February 2013
What else is there to say? Sophocles is fantastically convoluted as always, while being completely ironic all throughout. However, I would never recommend someone read a play, they are made to be seen, and this is no difference. However, I read this for school work, and would recommend this version for that purpose.
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