Oedipus at Colonus Book Summary - Oedipus at Colonus Book explained in key points

Oedipus at Colonus summary

Brief summary

Oedipus at Colonus is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. It follows the story of Oedipus as he seeks redemption and forgiveness in his final days, while exploring themes of fate and free will.

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    Oedipus at Colonus
    Summary of key ideas

    The Exile and Acceptance of Oedipus

    Beginning Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, we find the once mighty king Oedipus living in exile, accompanied by his loyal daughter Antigone. Oedipus, who is now blind and in rags, carries the burden of his past actions - killing his father and marrying his mother. They arrive at the village of Colonus, near Athens, where they hope to find refuge.

    In a somber twist, Oedipus is informed by a local citizen that he has trespassed on a sacred ground, a grove dedicated to the Furies, goddesses of vengeance. Oedipus, however, senses the auspiciousness of the spot and insists on waiting for the arrival of king Theseus, the ruler of Athens, to seek his protection.

    The Power Struggle

    Meanwhile, a messenger arrives from Thebes with an appeal for Oedipus to return. We learn that the power struggle has erupted between Oedipus' sons, Eteocles and Polynices, both wanting Oedipus' support. However, Oedipus curses both of his sons for neglecting him in his exile. He refuses the offer, harboring bitterness about being banished from Thebes.

    The messenger, in truth, his treacherous brother-in-law Creon, forcibly tries to usher Oedipus back, but he is thwarted by the arrival of Theseus. The king of Athens, maintaining the sacred duties of hospitality, gives his protection to Oedipus and sends Creon away.

    Reunion and Foreseen Death

    The narrative shifts with the sudden arrival of Oedipus' other daughter, Ismene. She reveals that an oracle has prophesied that Oedipus' grave shall bring fortune to the city where he is buried. Meanwhile, Polynices arrives, seeking forgiveness and support from Oedipus in a war against his brother. Oedipus sternly refuses, predicting the deaths of both sons from their impending conflict.

    Oedipus then confides in Theseus, revealing that the time of his death is near. He commits to bless the city of Athens and its people as a token of gratitude for their hospitable treatment. All he asks in return is a proper burial and the company of his daughters till his death.

    Conclusion and Transfiguration

    The climax of Oedipus at Colonus unveils a poignant scene where Oedipus, sensing his death, bids a touching goodbye to his daughters. He asks Theseus to take care of them and leads the king to his resting place. The process is one of quiet mysticism, as Oedipus' passing is described as a gentle transfiguration rather than a somber death.

    In conclusion, Oedipus at Colonus chronicles the tragic end of Oedipus, a fallen king. His road to redemption might be steeped in tragedy, but it eventually leads him to find peace in death. It's a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, even in the face of extreme adversity.

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    What is Oedipus at Colonus about?

    Oedipus at Colonus is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles that tells the story of Oedipus, the former king of Thebes, as he seeks refuge in the sacred grove of the Furies at Colonus. The play explores themes of fate, redemption, and the power of the gods, as Oedipus comes to terms with his past and prepares for his eventual death. It is a powerful and thought-provoking examination of the human condition.

    Oedipus at Colonus Review

    Oedipus at Colonus (406 BC) tells the powerful story of Oedipus as he nears the end of his tragic life, seeking redemption and peace. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • The play explores the themes of destiny, fate, and morality, providing profound insights into the human condition and the consequences of our actions.
    • Through rich symbolism and imagery, it delves into the complexity of human relationships and the consequences of hubris, offering thought-provoking lessons.
    • The dramatic tension and emotional depth of the play captivate readers, creating an engrossing reading experience that leaves a lasting impact.

    Who should read Oedipus at Colonus?

    • Anyone interested in Greek mythology and classical literature
    • Readers interested in exploring themes of fate and destiny
    • Students of literature or drama studying the works of Sophocles

    About the Author

    Sophocles was an ancient Greek playwright who lived from 496 to 406 BC. He is one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, along with Aeschylus and Euripides. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays, but only seven have survived. His most famous works include "Oedipus Rex," "Antigone," and "Electra." "Oedipus at Colonus" is one of his later plays, which explores the themes of fate, redemption, and the power of the gods. Sophocles' plays continue to be performed and studied around the world.

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    Oedipus at Colonus FAQs 

    What is the main message of Oedipus at Colonus?

    The main message of Oedipus at Colonus is the importance of seeking redemption and finding peace in the face of tragedy.

    How long does it take to read Oedipus at Colonus?

    The reading time for Oedipus at Colonus varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is Oedipus at Colonus a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Oedipus at Colonus is a compelling play for those interested in Greek tragedies. It explores complex themes and offers a thought-provoking narrative.

    Who is the author of Oedipus at Colonus?

    Sophocles is the author of Oedipus at Colonus.

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