Student Question

How does the characterization and role of a recurring figure, like Oedipus or Antigone, differ in at least two plays by Sophocles?

Expert Answers

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To answer this question, I think a great character to use would be that of the blind seer, Tiresias. Tiresias appears in both Oedipus Rex and Antigone. Tiresias is a prophet of Apollo very well known for his clairvoyance. In both plays, he appears before the king of Thebes to offer wisdom that is not heeded in either instance. Both kings realize that Tiresias is right only when it is much too late.

There are, however, some differences in the ways he is presented in these two plays. In Oedipus Rex, Tiresias seems more human in the way that he toys with Oedipus with hints and riddles. In Antigone, however, Tiresias seems to be nothing but a vessel through which the gods are speaking clearly, telling Creon very bluntly that it's his fault that "the city is sick."

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