Origins: from myth to tragedy

The play Oedipus the King is part of Sophocles' exploration of the Labdacid myth (see: Background), to which he also devoted himself in the plays Antigone and Oedipus on Colonus

For the Greeks, myths were part of their education; they grew up with them. An essential part of the enjoyment of art consists of noting and appreciating the modifications and interpretations that the poets make with and to the stories. It follows that Greek tragedy unfolds from a silent agreement between the recipients and the poet about the material, which distinguishes it from the majority of contemporary theatrical forms. 

The question of the significance of the time circumstances in relation to the creation of Oedipus the King is disputed in the literature. The fact is that Sophocles' tragedy was written in a period of severe state and thus also personal crises. 

The assumption of a connection between the play and the Peloponnesian War, the outbreak of the plague, and the fall and death of Pericles is obvious, especially when one considers that the drama was written between 429 and 425 BC. Even though Sophocles chooses Thebes as the setting, the parallels to Athens are quite recognizable. The city is in a deep crisis. It would be very strange if the play, which begins with the priest and the people lamenting the spread of the plague, had no actual connection to the pl...

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