1. What is the condition of the people of Thebes when the play opens?
2. What is Creon’s relationship to Oedipus?
3. What is the meaning of the long prayer by the Chorus?
4. How does Oedipus respond to the long prayer by the Chorus?
5. What curse does Oedipus call down on the murderer of Laius?
6. What does Oedipus ask Tiresias to do when the seer arrives?
7. How does Tiresias first respond?
8. Why does Tiresias respond the way he does?
9. How does Oedipus change in his dealings with Tiresias?
10 What is the meaning of what Tiresias reveals?
1. When the play opens, the people of Thebes are sick, weak and dying. Their crops are blighted and there is a plague on the land.
2. Creon is the brother of Jocasta, the widowed queen of Thebes who married Oedipus. Along with being the brother-in-law of Oedipus, Creon is his uncle, because Oedipus is Jocasta’s son.
3. The long prayer by the Chorus invokes several of the gods worshipped by the ancient Greeks and asks them to help Thebes in their specialized ways. The prayer shows the devotion of the Chorus to a religion that was being challenged in rationalist intellectual circles.
4. In his response to the long prayer by the Chorus, Oedipus reveals himself as one who believes he is beyond the power of...
(The entire section is 410 words.)
1. Who does the Chorus seek in the first long speech of this section?
2. What are the family relationships of Creon, Oedipus and Jocasta?
3. How does Creon react to the charges Oedipus has made against him?
4. Why does Oedipus spare Creon’s life?
5. How does Creon react to being spared?
6. What is the family relationship of Jocasta, Laius and Oedipus?
7. How does Jocasta view prophecy, fate and the gods?
8. What news does the Messenger from Corinth bring?
9. What are the unexpected effects of this news?
10. Why does Jocasta beg Oedipus to stop his search for the shepherd the Messenger mentions
1. The doomed man the Chorus seeks is the man who killed Laius. That man is Oedipus, but the Chorus doesn’t believe that yet.
2. Creon is Jocasta’s brother, which makes him the brother-in-law of Oedipus. He later finds out that he is also the uncle of Oedipus when he finds out that Oedipus is Jocasta’s son.
3. Creon reacts to the charges Oedipus has made against him by arguing that it is not only bad and wrong to plot against a king, but that it doesn’t make sense for a hanger-on at the palace to give up an easy life for the burden of wearing the crown.
4. Oedipus spares Creon’s life because he is shamed by the Chorus and by Jocasta.
(The entire section is 418 words.)
1. Why does Jocasta say that Oedipus is doomed and run from his sight?
2. When the queen runs off in obvious anguish, why does the Leader of the Chorus seem to have more empathy than Oedipus does?
3. Why is the Shepherd reluctant to answer the questions that Oedipus asks?
4. How does Oedipus react when the Shepherd reveals the truth?
5. How does the Chorus react to the truth the Shepherd reveals?
6. How does the Messenger from the palace preface his news when he announces that Jocasta has taken her own life?
7. How does the audience learn the details of Jocasta’s suicide?
8. Who takes down Jocasta’s body from the noose ?
9. Why does Oedipus blind himself?
10. How do the final pieces of the story fall into place?
1. Jocasta says that Oedipus is doomed and she runs from his sight because she has figured out the truth. He still doesn’t see how fate has shaped their lives.
2. The Leader of the Chorus seems to have more empathy than Oedipus does because he is not focused only on his own desires, as Oedipus is.
3. The Shepherd is reluctant to answer the questions that Oedipus asks because he is afraid that he will be killed if he speaks the awful truth.
4. When the Shepherd finally reveals the truth, Oedipus shouts that the light will soon go...
(The entire section is 443 words.)
1. What has Oedipus learned from his years of begging and wandering in exile?
2. Where do Oedipus and Antigone tread at the beginning of the play?
3. How does the Citizen react to the strangers in the sacred grove?
4. What prayer does Oedipus offer after the Citizen leaves?
5. How does the Chorus react at first to the news that someone has trespassed on the sacred grove?
6. How does the Chorus react when Oedipus, haggard and blind, reveals himself?
7. How does the Chorus react when Oedipus gives his name?
8. How does Oedipus shame the Chorus into accepting him?
9. What news does Ismene bring?
10. How does Oedipus react to Ismene’s news?
1. From his years of begging and wandering in exile, Oedipus has learned humility and he has learned acceptance.
2. At the beginning of the play, Oedipus and Antigone tread on a grove that is sacred to the Eumenides.
3. The Citizen reacts to the strangers in the sacred grove with a mixture of anger and fear. He is angry that they have trespassed, and he is fearful of divine retribution.
4. After the Citizen leaves, Oedipus prays to the Eumenides in both their manifestations—kindly and punishing—and he asks them to give him the great gift promised by the gods that will balance the agonies of his younger years.
5. The Chorus reacts like an angry mob to the news that someone has trespassed on the sacred grove.
6. The Chorus reacts with pity when Oedipus, haggard and blind, reveals himself.
7. The Chorus reacts with fear and disgust when Oedipus tells them his name.
8. Oedipus shames the Chorus into accepting him in several ways. He appeals to the Athenian tradition of compassion and charity toward strangers, and he claims that the terrible crimes he unknowingly committed were the acts of an innocent man who was the plaything of the gods. He also says that the gods are watching right now to see how the Chorus treats him.
9. Ismene brings news that Creon, her uncle, is trying to get Oedipus back to Thebes because the city will be cursed unless Oedipus is buried properly. But that plan does not include burial inside the gates of Thebes, which infuriates Oedipus.
10. Oedipus reacts to Ismene’s news with joy and vindication, saying that he knew the gods had something great set aside for him after all his suffering.
1. What ceremony does the Leader of the Chorus explain to Oedipus?
2. How does Oedipus react when the Leader finishes explaining the ceremony?
3. What do Ismene and Antigone say after their father speaks to the Leader about the ceremony?
4. Why does the Chorus want Oedipus to recite the details of his life?
5. Why does Oedipus yield to the curiosity of the Chorus when the men press him for the details of his life?
6. Why does Theseus offer protection and the full rights of citizenship to Oedipus?
7. What gift does Oedipus promise to Theseus?
8. Why is Creon searching for Oedipus?
9. Why does Creon seize Ismene and Antigone?
10. Why will Creon be Theseus’ prisoner until the women are returned?
1. The Leader of the Chorus explains to Oedipus how to make an offering to the Eumenides, the goddesses whose sacred grove has been trod upon.
2. When the Leader finishes explaining the ceremony, Oedipus says that he is too old and weak to perform the rituals. He asks Ismene and Antigone if one of them could take his place.
3. Ismene says that she will gather what the goddesses require and she will perform the rites. She tells Antigone to stay and watch over their father, and Antigone makes no protest.
4. The Chorus wants Oedipus to recite the details of...
(The entire section is 429 words.)
1. How does Theseus win back Ismene and Antigone?
2. How does Oedipus react when he is reunited with his daughters?
3. What promise does Theseus reaffirm to the family after the reunion?
4. Why does Polynices want to see his father?
5. How does Polynices begin the dialogue with his father?
6. How does Antigone feel about the visit from Polynices?
7. Oedipus reacts to Polynices how?
8. What happens between Oedipus and Polynices as their conversation continues?
9. What curse does Oedipus repeat to Polynices?
10. What promise does Polynices wrest from Antigone?
1. Theseus wins back Ismene and Antigone by chasing down their captors. He declines to boast of the details.
2. Oedipus reacts with joy and gratitude when he is reunited with his daughters.
3. After the reunion, Theseus reaffirms his promise of protection.
4. Polynices wants to see his father so that the old man’s powers will guarantee him victory.
5. Polynices begins the dialogue with his father as a contrite son seeking forgiveness and hoping to set right all the wrongs of the past.
6. When Polynices arrives, Antigone is optimistic and she is willing to forgive her brother. She urges Oedipus to listen to what Polynices wants to say.
7. Oedipus reacts to Polynices with anger and mistrust.
8. As the conversation between Oedipus and Polynices continues, the son reveals his true purpose for coming and the father becomes even more angry.
9. Oedipus repeats to Polynices an old curse, which is that the two brothers will kill each other in battle.
10. Polynices wrests from Antigone the promise of a decent burial, no matter what happens. This does not bode well for Antigone.
1. Why does Oedipus want Theseus summoned when the thunder peals?
2. How does the Chorus react to the thunder and lightning?
3. How does Theseus react to the weather?
4. What preparations does Oedipus ask his daughters to make?
5. Why does Oedipus whisper his final words to Theseus alone?
6. What does the Messenger see?
7. Why won’t Theseus tell Antigone and Ismene where their father’s tomb is?
8. Why does Antigone ask Theseus to help her and Ismene get back to Thebes?
9. Why does Theseus say that he will help the sisters?
10. What awaits the women in Thebes?
(The entire section is 293 words.)
1. What are the family relationships of Antigone, Ismene, Polynices, Eteocles, Oedipus, Jocasta and Creon?
2. Why has Creon given an honorable burial to Eteocles but decreed that anyone doing the same for Polynices will be stoned to death?
3. How do Antigone and Ismene settle their differences?
4. What does Antigone say when Ismene promises to keep her secret?
5. What do we learn from the Chorus?
6. What is the underlying meaning of the speech the Leader of the Chorus delivers to Creon?
7. Why is the Sentry afraid to deliver his message?
8. How does Creon respond to the Sentry’s message?
9. In her...
(The entire section is 334 words.)
1. What is the purpose of the first long speech by the Chorus?
2. What does the Sentry see?
3. What is the Sentry’s main concern?
4. Why does Creon intend to kill Ismene?
5. Why does Antigone reject Ismene by saying she prefers to die alone?
6. How does Ismene attempt to spare her sister’s life?
7. What kind of a leader is Creon?
8. Who is Haemon?
9. What advice does Haemon give Creon?
10. How does Creon receive Haemon’s advice?
1. The first long speech by the Chorus presents the audience with the intellectual issues that shape the play....
(The entire section is 325 words.)
1. What threat does Haemon make?
2. How does the king interpret Haemon’s threat?
3. Whose fate does Antigone say is similar to her own?
4. How does the Chorus respond when Antigone compares her fate to the destiny of a women—Niobe—with immortal blood?
5. Why does Tiresias come to the palace?
6. What goes wrong with the omens and the offerings?
7. How have the altars been profaned?
8. How does Creon dismiss the prophecies Tiresias offers?
9. What is the most dreadful thing Tiresias says?
10. How do the masses feel about Creon according to Tiresias?
(The entire section is 325 words.)
1. What does Creon fear will happen to him if he heeds the advice Tiresias has given?
2. What does Creon admit after he decides to take the prophet’s advice?
3. Where does Antigone die?
4. Why does Haemon kill himself?
5. How does Haemon’s mother, Eurydice, hear of his death?
6. What does Eurydice do after Haemon’s death?
7. How does Creon discover Haemon’s death?
8. When does Creon discover his wife’s death?
9. How does Creon react to all these tragedies?
10. Chorus sums up the preceeding events in what manner?
1. Creon fears that he...
(The entire section is 284 words.)