What are some examples of pathos and ethos in the play "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles? What emotions do you feel while reading the play?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pathos: This is defined in Aristotle's Rhetoric as a speaker appealing to the emotions of the audience. In other words, an example of pathos in Oedipus Rex would be an instance when one character speaks in such a manner as to persuade another character to act in a certain fashion by appealing to that other character's emotions. One example of this is the speech of the Priest at the beginning of the playing describing the effects of the plague on the city of Thebes:

Disease infects fruit blossoms in our land,

disease infects our herds of grazing cattle,

makes women in labour lose their children

Ethos: Ethos is defined as an argument grounded in the character of the speaker. Arguments from ethos are used extensively by Oedipus, Creon, and Teiresias. Oedipus' boast concerning his defeat of the Sphinx is an example of an argument from ethos:

But then I came, Oedipus, who knew nothing.

Yet I finished her off, using my wits

rather than relying on birds.

Emotions: For what emotions you feel as you read the play, you are the only person who can answer that question and you can only do so by reading the play or watching one of the many excellent versions available for free via YouTube. Aristotle argues that the emotions evoked by the play are fear and pity, but whether you feel these is something only you can decide.