Sophocles’ uses plant symbolism several times in Oedipus Rex. It could not be otherwise: he is crowned with bay,/The chaplet is thick with berries.What is the different in this sentence compare...

Sophocles’ uses plant symbolism several times in Oedipus Rex.

It could not be otherwise: he is crowned with bay,/The chaplet is thick with berries.

What is the different in this sentence compare to that:

“It could not be otherwise: he is crowned with bay,/The chaplet is thick with berries.”

The 1st one, emphasizes the word "bay", the 2nd one emphasizes the word "berries"

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

This strikes me as a rather interesting question over what, at first glance, seems like a minor detail. The suppliant Thebans also have garlands of bay (also known as laurel) upon their branches at the first of the play. If Oedipus wears a crown of laurel, too, then this would seem to create a link between him and his fellow citizens, whom he is hoping to help.

We should also note that the laurel is a plant that is sacred to Apollo. The laurel crown also links Oedipus with Apollo, the very god whose prophecies he is trying to avoid.

A crown of laurel might also have reminded Sophocles' audience of the laurel crowns awarded to victors at the Pythian games, competitions held in honor of Apollo at Delphi. Having Oedipus wear a crown of laurel might have cast him in the figurative role of a victor. Of course, he is the tragic victor, who ultimately falls by the play's end.

The thickness of the berries is also interesting. Thickness might indicate ripeness and vitality, marking Oedipus as a powerful and vigorous person who has the ability to deal with the blight of the plague that vexes the Thebans.

Sources:

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