Theban Trilogy

Last week I read Theban Trilogy by Sophocles, published by The University of Chicago press in 2013.

Sophocles writes about the struggle of man against fate. He tells that no matter how hard man tries, he can never avoid the will of the gods.

The main character of Sophocles’s first two plays is Oedipus. He is the unlucky victim of a prophecy that says he will kill his father and marry his mother. He and his parents do all they can to stop the prophecy from being fulfilled while all the while they are actually bringing it closer and closer to fulfillment.

The main character of Sophocles’s third play is Oedipus’s daughter Antigone. In the second play she was caring for her father but now that he is dead, she has moved back to Thebes. Her goal in this play is to give her brother Polyneices a proper burial.

A supporting character in the second and third plays is Istra, Oedipus’s other daughter. She is more timid than Antigone and she never strays from the laws. She comes out of her shell in the third play though and stands by Antigone.

The last character I will write about is Jocasta, Oedipus’s mother/wife. She weds Oedipus when he saves Thebes from the sphinx not knowing that he was her son. When she realizes the truth, she kills herself.

Both the first and third plays are set in Thebes. The first Thebes is under Oedipus’s rule , while the Thebes in the third play is ruled by Creon,  Jocasta’s brother. The second play is set on the outskirts of Athens on the holy ground of the Furies.

The climax of the first play is when Oedipus and Jocasta start putting two and two together. The second play climaxes when Antigone and Istra are kidnapped by Creon. The third play hits the climax when Antigone is about to be killed for trying to bury her brother.

These plays weren’t great but they weren’t bad either. They were a little too violent and messed up for my taste, but the story line was well thought out. If you were only going to read one of the three plays I would recommend reading “Antigone”, the third one.


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