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Oedipus & Medea Tragic Heroes

Oedipus & Medea Tragic Heroes

  • Submitted By: AlanA0203
  • Date Submitted: 12/13/2008 6:10 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2029
  • Page: 9
  • Views: 1879

Aristotle a century after Sophocles wrote Oedipus The King and around the same time Euripides was writing Medea began to create his own ingredients to what makes a tragic hero. In Aristotle’s Poetics he writes what specifically makes a good tragedy and what must make up tragic hero. Firstly, one must experience catharsis which in Greek means, the releasing of emotion. The emotion that the tragic hero usually arouses in the audience is that of pity and fear. Secondly the tragic hero must be superior to his audience either through a special ability or social rank. Lastly the events to which have led to the tragic hero’s downfall has come from their own doing. In this paper I will explain how Oedipus and Medea fit this format in their respective stories and then explain which character does a better job of fitting Aristotle’s ideals of a tragic hero.

Oedipus the King begins with a plague that strikes the city of Thebes. A priest speaks of the black cloud hanging over Thebes “Our city- look around you, see with your own eyes- our ships pitches wildly, cannot lift her head from the depths, the red waves of death… and the rich pastures, cattle sicken and die, and the women die in labor, children stillborn, and the plague, the fiery god of fever hurls down on the city, his lightning slashing through us.” (Sophocles 391) Oedipus who we meet as the king of Thebes as sent his brother-in law Creon to Delphi the home of supreme Greek god Apollo. When Creon returns he tells Oedipus that the oracle states that the killer of Lauis, the king before Oedipus, must be found and banished from Thebes. Oedipus decrees that he will personally find the killer and banish him from the city. Tell help him find the killer he consults with the blind prophet Teiresias. But when Teiresias arrives he does not want to deliver his knowledge of who killed Laius. The audience sees foreshadowing through Teiresias dialogue of events that may come to light later in the play....

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