Download Oedipus Rex Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Significant Myths and Structure of the Text

Significant Myths 

Oedipus as Myth: Oedipus’s story predates Sophocles’s play. It was part of the oral tradition of Greek mythology, and its first reference in writing is in the Homeric epics. In book 11 of The Odyssey, Odysseus visits the underworld where he meets Jocasta (Epicaste, in some translations). Though the essence of the myth is the same in Homer as in Sophocles, there are two key differences. Homer describes the revelation of Oedipus’s identity as coming directly from the gods, not from either an oracle or his own reasoning. Further, in Homer, Oedipus continues to rule Thebes after Jocasta’s death, albeit unhappily; in Sophocles’s play, he goes into exile. 

Apollo: One of the eminent gods in the Greek pantheon, Apollo is associated with light, knowledge, reason, and the arts. His symbols are the lyre, the bow and arrow, and the laurel wreath. Artemis (Diana) is his twin, and his parents are Leto and Zeus (Jupiter). Importantly, Apollo is the god worshiped at Delphi and is considered responsible for the oracle there. Myth has it that Hera sends a python to pursue Leto in Delphi as punishment for her liaison with Zeus (Jupiter in the Roman). Apollo slays the python in the temple, resulting in Apollo’s worship in Delphi. 

Tiresias: Tiresias...

(The entire section is 441 words.)