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Short Answer Quiz

  1. When the Oracle at Delphi answered Oedipus’s query about his parentage with the prophesy that he would kill his father and marry his mother, what did he do? What do you think he should have done?

  1. What are the circumstances under which Oedipus killed Laius? What justification is there for the killing? Why do you think that so many years later the gods want the killer punished?

  1. In order to identify the killer of Laius, Oedipus sent Creon to the Oracle at Delphi, consulted Tiresias, and questioned Jocasta and members of the household. What did he learn from each that brought him closer to the truth?

  1. What justification can you make for Oedipus’s suspicion of the motives of Creon and Tiresias for naming him Laius’s murderer?

  1. At what point do you think that Jocasta knew the truth about Oedipus? How did she learn the truth? Why did she find the truth so unbearable?

  1. If Oedipus had only questioned Creon and Tiresias, he could have remained justifiably ignorant of the truth about his past. Why do you think he pressed the issue by questioning the Shepherd and the Messenger? 

  1. As king, Oedipus could have exempted himself from the punishment he had decreed for the murderer of Laius. Why do you think he submitted to his own rule?

  1. In order to be a tragic hero, according to the guidelines of Aristotle in his @em>Poetics@/em>, a character must be noble, his fate must be a fall from happiness to misery, and the audience should react with pity and fear.  These are apparent in the play. However, the final guideline is that the character’s flaw or error must be one of judgment and not one of ethics. What is Oedipus’s error? Explain why you think it is either one of judgment or ethics, and why he is or isn’t a tragic hero.

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