CSI:Thebes

Oedipus (Grissom) is on the case to solve the mystery of who killed Laius. And the only thing that will lead him there is the “evidence”.

Part 1

Laius died under suspicious circumstances. He left Thebes with a small entourage of guards in a small wagon. He never returned. There was only one survivor to tell the tale: a servant who, upon seeing Oedipus on the throne requested to be sent to be sent out to the pastures far away from Thebes to live out his days.

Start by reading lines 697-728. What is being said here? Who is Oedipus? Who is Jocasta?

Task: Hypothesise – how might Laius’ son have killed him? What are the complications here? Can we trust the word of prophets?

You’ll also want to read:

  • The Problem: 1-149
  • The Curse: 280-286

Part 2

Oedipus sets out on his investigation to discover Laius’ murderer. All good investigators begin by questioning those involved. Oedipus’ tactics are slightly unorthodox as he decides to question the local prophet for answers.

Listen to Mr. Tangey’s description of Tiresias (he appears frequently in Greek mythology), or look him up online.

Watch/Read: 340 – 379

Task: Why is Tiresias being so cagey. Could  he have something to hide? What does he know?

Once you are done, read/watch: 380-505

Part 3

Quite by coincidence, a messenger appears on detective Oedipus’ doorstep. He bears news that King Polybus of Corinth is dead. Read/Watch pages 1012 – 1145.

Task: Why is Oedipus concerned about returning to his homeland? Why   does Jocasta “turn sharply” at 1144?

To fully understand what is going on here, you’ll need to find out why Oedipus left Corinth. Read 847-923

Interlude

By now all secrets should be revealed. Take some time to summarise the plot of the text as you understand it. You might:

  • Write a narrative summary
  • Create a timeline
  • Record yourself retelling the story.

In the interests of understanding, reorder the story so that all the events occur chronologically ie. “Laius and Jocasta have a child who is said to kill his father and marry his mother” should be your first point.

As you are working back through the text, it might be useful to mark key moments in your text. Use stickies to label the main conversations.

Part 4

All is revealed when the old shepherd finally arrives 1228- 1310.

We are next treated to the outcome of the story though this comes second-hand through a palace messenger. Read/watch 1351- 1342 to find out what happend to Oedipus and his family.

Don’t forget to add this to your summary.

Now compare the plot to Aristotle’s thoughts on the use of plot in tragedy.

 

Task: Write about the following topics in-line with Aristotle’s thoughts on plot in tragedy:

  • Contained (clear beginning, middle, and end)
  • “air of design” without deus ex machina
  • Plot flaws exist outside the events of the play
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