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What is sophocles' message and directive for his audience in the last four lines of...

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harleyrm | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted November 28, 2011 at 7:20 AM via web

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What is sophocles' message and directive for his audience in the last four lines of Oedipus Rex?

The last four lines are: "Let every man in mankind's frailty consider his last day; and let none presume on his good fortune until he find life, at his death, a memory without pain".

How does this happen throughout the play...

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msgale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 28, 2011 at 7:51 AM (Answer #1)

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In the last four lines of Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex", the Chorus directs the audience

Look ye, countrymen and Thebans, this is Oedipus the great,
He who knew the Sphinx's riddle and was mightiest in our state.
Who of all our townsmen gazed not on his fame with envious eyes?
Now, in what a sea of troubles sunk and overwhelmed he lies!
Therefore wait to see life's ending ere thou count one mortal blest;
Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest.

In these lines, Sophocles appears to be telling his audience that they that they should not envy those that seem to have everything because eveyone has some pain and misery.  Oedipus was one of the most admired and envied for his position and his brave acts, and yet, because of the events in the play, ends up blind and leaving his children behind.  Those people that envied him before can no longer wish that they were in his shoes.

Sophocles is attempting to warn his audience away from envy before they know the whole story, and snce it's almost impossible to know the whole story, don't be envious.  All people are, inevitably, miserable.

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