Leadership in Sophocles' Oedipus TyrannusThe story of Oedipus has several connections to Agamemnon and Antony. Like Agamemnon, one of Oedipus' central problems of leadership is how to address a plague sent by Apollo upon the city of Thebes, a plague that he is unknowingly the cause of. He, too, feels a rivalry with his uncle/brother-in-law, Creon, and is suspicious of the seer, Teiresias. His mother/wife, Iocasta, is queen of Thebes and, like Cleopatra, exercises her own independent leadership and ultimately commits suicide out of shame. Unlike in the other stories, the disaster associated with Oedipus' problems of leadership ultimately turn upon his own family: infanticide, patricide, suicide, incest, and self-mutilation, the very marrow of Athenian tragedy.
This seven-hour module asks us to consider the well-known story of Oedipus in three acts: foundations, communities, and discoveries.
- In the first stage, we consider the mythological and cultural backgrounds of the story to consider to what extent it makes sense to think of the story of Oedipus in this performance as one that is in a significant way about leadership.
- In the second, we learn to contextualize the play in its Athenian setting and consider how it communicates issues of communal and political identities.
- In the third act, we examine the play as a whole and what its messages about knowledge, self-deception and power can say about the identity and process of leadership.
[Here is some additional information available on the Oedipus' myths.]
As you work your way through the three acts, familiarize yourself with these concepts:
Calamity (‘suffering’, pathos)
Fear and Pity