Oedipus’ Edict and Curse (Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus,236–243)

Nikolsky Boris M.

The article deals with the problem of the addressee of Oedipus’ curse in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus 236–243. It is suggested that the curse is directed both against the murderer of Laius and against all potential informants who are concealing the murderer’s name. The ambivalence, or rather the incongruity, of Sophocles’ text is explained by the double rhetorical aim of Oedipus’ monologue: it is at once an edict demanding to reveal the identity of the murderer and a curse against the murderer himself. The double rhetorical function of the monologue derives from its double dramatic role. On the one hand, it begins the action of the play, which consists in revealing the murderer’s identity, and on the other hand, the curse acts as the play’s leitmotif: it is cited throughout the tragedy and determines Oedipus’ future fate.

Keywords: tragedy, Sophocles, Oedipus, edict, curse, murderer

Blaydes, F.H.M. (ed.) 1859: Sophocles, with English Notes. Vol. I. London.

Campbell, L. (ed.) 1879: Sophocles. Vol. I. Oedipus Tyrannus. Oedipus Coloneus. Antigone. 2nd ed. Oxford.

Carawan, E. 1999: The edict of Oedipus (Oedipus Tyrannus223–51). American Journal of Philology 120, 187–222.

Classen, J. 1861: Ueber die Rede des Königs Oedipus in Sophokles O. R.216–275 [mit Erwiderung]. Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 16, 489–500.

Dyson, M. 1973: Oracle, edict, and curse in Oedipus Tyrannus. Classical Quarterly 23/2, 202–212.

Finglass, P. (ed.) 2018: Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Cambridge.

Fraenkel, E. (ed.) 1950: Aeschylus. Agamemnon. Vol. I–III. Oxford.

Henry, A.S. 1969: Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus 222–43. Classical Review 19/2, 125–126.

Jebb, R. (ed.) 1914: Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments. Pt. I. The Oedipus Tyrannus. 3rd ed. Cambridge.

Knox, B.M.W. 1957: Oedipus at Thebes. New Haven.

Knox, B.M.W. (transl.) 1959: Sophocles. Oedipus the King. New York.

Lloyd-Jones, H., Wilson, N.G. 1990: Sophoclea. Studies on the Text of Sophocles. Oxford.

Lloyd-Jones, H. (ed.) 1994: Sophocles. Vol. I. Ajax. Electra. Oedipus Tyrannus. (The Loeb Classical Library, 20). Cambridge (MA)–London.

Ribbeck, O. 1858: Zu Sophokles. Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 13, 129–132.

Ribbeck, O. 1861: Erwiderung an Herrn Direktor Dr. Classen: die Rede des Königs Oedipus in Sophokles O. R. 216 ff. Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 16, 501–510.

Schneidewin, F.W. (Hrsg.) 1856: Sophokles. Bd. II. Oedipus Tyrannus. 3. Auflage besorgt von A. Nauck. Berlin.

Wecklein, N. (ed.) 1880: Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Leipzig.