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Was Oedipus, in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, a good father?

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fairtomidland | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM via web

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Was Oedipus, in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, a good father?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:54 AM (Answer #1)

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The problem with assessing Oedipus' role as a father in Sophocles' Antigone and Oedipus Rex is that the children are not characters in the first play and the father is dead in the second. Ismene, in Antigone, seems to blame Oedipus for his persistence in searching out the source of pollution in Thebes but the mention is brief and in passing:

ISMENE: Ah me! think, sister, how our father perished, amid hate and scorn, when sins bared by his own search had moved him to strike both eyes with self-blinding hand; ...

Oedipus' relationship with his children is portrayed in more depth in Oedipus at Colonus, where he is seen as invoking a curse on both Polynices and Eteocles. Antigone acts as a prop to her father and Ismene tries to function as a peace-maker. Oedipus himself seems more concerned with large scale religious and political issues than with his children as individuals. In many ways, Oedipus' abdication of the position of fatherhood with respect to his sons can be blamed for the the fratricidal war.

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