How Oedipus Pleasantly Surprised me – Montana

Oedipus was not a book I expected to enjoy. There, I said it. Shocking, isn’t it? A 16-year-old in the 21st century did not think that they’d be moved by some tragedy written sometime in Ancient Greece. At most, I thought I’d enjoy hearing references to the Greek Gods. Now here I am, surprisingly moved by the writing and the humor presented in Oedipus.

As I said before in class, the humor of Oedipus was quite entertaining. I found myself laughing at many parts of the text, which I certainly did not anticipate from a tragedy. One of the many jokes that I appreciated was following Oedipus ranting about how Creon was going to attempt to overthrow him, and Creon responded with a simple, “Are you quite finished?” (pg. 189). Such a hilarious set of dialogue that is still enjoyed in our modern day. Before this, Oedipus proclaims,

Now my curse on the murderer. Whoever he is, a lone man unknown in his crime or one among many, let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step– I curse myself as well . . . if by any chance he proves to be an intimate of our house, here at my hearth, with my full knowledge, may the curse I just called down on him strike me! (pg. 172)

This excerpt of pure irony makes us as readers completely facepalm, as with the knowledge we have, we understand the ideocracy of this curse Oedipus puts upon the murderer of Laius, which is himself. Both examples of the humor within what we know as a Ancient Greek tragedy certainly caught me off guard yet amused me.

Another aspect of Oedipus that was very pleasing was the emotional writing. Charged lines within this play whether you are or aren’t expecting them hit you quite hard, no matter what. These lines of dialogue truly remind you that this is a tragedy, lines like,

Apollo, friends, Apollo– he ordained my agonies– these, my pains on pains! But the hand that struck my eyes was mine, mine alone– no one else– I did it all myself! What good were eyes to me? Nothing I could see could bring me joy. (pg. 241)

These few lines truly show the weight of living Oedipus’ life to me, his true intentions and feelings towards what’s happened to him. Here, we can see the trauma he’s endured truly showing through. It is lines like theses that really help immerse me into a book and make me enjoy the material I’m reading.

Overall, this book has caused the impression I’ve had of other ancient Greek tragedies to become less intimidating. Whereas before, the thought of reading them almost frightened me, now I feel as thought I could read through another book of similar type of Oedipus without worry, but instead excitement.