What is the element of pathos expressed in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles?      

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Pathos in Greek means suffering in the sense of enduring adverse external events. It is based on a notion of psychology somewhat different from the modern one, assuming a less internalized notion of mood or emotion, and instead one grounded in character affected by circumstance. In the case of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, suffering is caused by a curse on the Theban dynasty. The gods then decree that the son of Laius will kill his father and wed his mother. The Sphinx, plage, and denouement of the play, with its prediction of future sufferings of the children of Oedipus are all instances of pathos in which both the characters of the play and the audience by the mechanism of sympathy experience suffering. Oedipus says to his children:

 

 

And I weep for you, although I cannot see you;
contemplating the bitterness of your lives,
the sort of life men will force you to live.

 

 

Through the mechanism of sympathy when viewing imitation of suffering (according to Aristotle) the emotions of fear and pity are invoked in the audience.

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