Think Questions for Prologue/ Parados

  1. Describe the various calamities that recently have befallen Thebes. Why do the people believe a King rather than a priest can deal more effectively with this crisis?
  2. Discuss Oedipus' conquest of the Sphinx. How did he solve that riddle? With what weapon does Oedipus defeat the Sphinx? What is the symbolic meaning of this victory? Is there any significance to making the Sphinx female? How is the Sphinx symbolic of Egyptian culture? 
  3. Is Oedipus' confidence in his ability to use his reason to solve this new riddle a case of hubris- the kind of reckless pride and arrogance that might bring down the wrath of the gods, as it did on Achilles in The Iliad and on the suitors in The Odyssey?
  4. What illogical enigmas and strange inconsistencies haunt the action of the play from its outset? Are the residents of Thebes stupid? Did they forget their past? Or do they know much more than they are telling? What is the sub-text to the play?
  5. What imagery does Oedipus use to describe his objectives? Remember this because imagery is one of the primary poetic devices that Sophocles will use in creating his dramatic effects.
  6. How is everything Oedipus says and does suffused with irony? Give examples.
    Irony: the simultaneous contemplation of opposites. Not sarcastic, sardonic or insincere humor, such as the cynical humor of David Letterman, irony is the hallmark of a writer's struggles with the complexity of life. The successful evocation of a reader's sense of the ironic is a central feature of tragedy. Irony in a work of art can be dramatic, structural or verbal without a whiff of sarcasm.
  7. What is the function of the chorus in the play? Are they a part of the action or not? Do they know as much about what is happening as the audience? Are they Sophocles' mouthpiece?
    What does the chorus sing about in the Parados?