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The similarities between oedipus the king oedipus rex and oedipus at colonus

Have a suggestion to improve this page? To leave a general comment about our Web site, please click here Share this page with your network. Isn't he the one with the complex? This year, I want to prepare a group of students to see the work from a different viewpoint—namely the Greek viewpoint; and we'll do that by looking at the tragedy from the point-of-view of the chorus.

Most people assume that students in most AP classes "get it" more easily than in most other general education classes. While this may be true for some students, many students struggle in my AP Language and Literature class. Students are often in these classes because they are motivated and they do the work, but this doesn't always mean that they have the skills to analyze literature.

It is often the first time students have had to do this, rather than just following along with the plot.

Oedipus and Theseus at the Crossroads

It can also be a struggle to notice symbolism, themes, and other literary devices writers use to deliver their messages. Students may become frustrated with an author's diction or the use of symbolic language that sometimes purposely obscures the message. That said, most AP students are excited at the prospect of gaining the skills required to analyze literature because they will need them to be able to pass the AP exam at the end of the year.

Oedipus Rex is an outstanding example of a Greek tragedy, a genre that many of my students are unfamiliar with. Throughout the year we work on characterization, the use of literary devices and their purpose in diverse texts, and analytical essay writing, among other skills. Because Oedipus Rex is the third text we look at in the year, students have had some practice in honing these skills, but are still struggling to read more deeply than the plot action.

The verses that make up the chorus are fairly densely worded and difficult to understand, and sometimes I get the feeling that students think of the chorus almost like a side note—one they don't really have to pay attention to in order to get the drift of the story. The chorus doesn't always follow the plot, and so students have a hard time keeping track of what it is talking about. It's almost impossible to get my students to find meaning in it on their own, and in the past they've needed to have it spoon-fed to them.

In this unit I'm attempting to teach the text Oedipus Rex by focusing mainly on the chorus and by teaching students about the incredibly important function of the chorus in classic Greek tragedy. We will use images of the Greek theatre as well as stills and clips from productions of Oedipus Rex to examine the role and function of the chorus in the tragedy.

We will also compare and contrast the ancient Greek chorus with a modern equivalent: It's a small high school of around students, and our staff is a supportive and collaborative group. For some reason, our school is not generally subjected to district curriculum demands, so we have the freedom to make our own, keeping a close eye on standards and the Common Core, of course.

OHS is structured on a block schedule with three minute classes each day. I see my classes every other day, and that fact may affect the way I plan and lay out classroom activities. I get to know many of the students I have in AP Literature the year before, in an advisory class.

I therefore know them fairly well before I teach them in AP. This will be the first AP class for all of them, and I know that many of them are fairly well-prepared because of our strong Humanities program. My AP students are like many other classes, however. Some of them like to speak up in class, and some are extremely quiet. This is understandable because many students are intimidated by an AP class as well as self-conscious about their own ideas. My challenge will be to achieve a balance for both types of students so that everyone's voice is heard and even the shy students become used to sharing ideas.

Rationale In ancient Greece, the chorus was a very important part of Greek tragedies, if not the most important part. Daniels and Scully, authors of What is Really Going on in Sophocles' Theban Plays, say that "no feature of Greek tragedy is more intractable than the chorus. It's not something that translates to students simply by reading the text.

If students are able to understand the importance of the chorus before they even begin reading, they will be more engaged as they read. This will lead to better understanding of the meaning of the chorus, which is essential to interpreting the text. I want to focus this unit almost entirely on the role and function of the chorus as well as the message it gives the reader or viewer throughout the drama. This is an important way to read or view a tragedy, especially nowadays, because we interpret it very differently from the way in which the ancient Greeks did.

For ancient Greeks, unlike my students, the chorus' role was an obvious one, and although the language was always in a formal dialect, it wasn't difficult to understand the chorus' message. Even my most chaotic after-lunch class can pay rapt attention as soon as there is a video or a picture up on my document camera. I think it's important to take advantage of their engagement with almost anything visual and use images in my unit to engage my students.

I'll be using paintings of scenes the similarities between oedipus the king oedipus rex and oedipus at colonus Greek tragedies as well as production stills in order to help students visualize the play instead of simply reading it.

  • The fascinating part of this story is that Oedipus never actually says the answer;
  • This is one of the foremost collections of interpretations of the text;
  • This is an interesting part of the play and I wasn't able to find out if there was symbolism for this act, or if it was just to add movement and dance;
  • In the brief history that I share with students, I will be focusing specifically on the chorus' role in tragedies and even more specifically on its role in Oedipus Rex;
  • Side-by-side viewing This activity can be done in one class period, but I will most likely complete it a few times throughout the unit using different images.

One of the issues for students that keeps them from gleefully jumping headfirst into the text is the form of the chorus. Because the chorus and the whole play for that matter; the chorus, however, is more obscure is written in verse, sometimes students struggle with its meaning. If students know the structure of the chorus and the conventions of the chorus and Greek theatre in general, the purpose and the meaning will be easier to understand. Definitions of words like strophe and antistrophe that will also help them understand form and function.

Students complain that it's difficult for them to relate to the issues that Oedipus faces. Additionally, because this play was written and performed starting all the way back in the sixth century BCE, it can be understandably difficult for students to imagine seeing it live. This can be difficult even for scholars, simply because we don't have a lot of evidence to draw from.

It is also difficult to disconnect students from their prior knowledge of Oedipus Rex, which can sometimes get in the way of seeing what's going on in the play. William Moebius quoted Gombrich in saying, "we are all inclined to judge the similarities between oedipus the king oedipus rex and oedipus at colonus by what we know rather than what we see.

We do know quite a bit about how plays were staged and what happened on the stage, and it's important for students to be able to connect it with something they have experience with.

To this end, I've been told by an expert in the field, Joe Roach, that choruses from Broadway musicals have a lot in common with the chorus in Greek tragedies, mainly in their look and actions; specifically the song "Oklahoma! Objectives My objective in teaching this unit is to give students a solid understanding of the role and function of the chorus in Oedipus Rex.

I want them to be able to discuss the story and the messages therein and be able to analyze the differences in the ways in which we read and interpret the play and the ways in which it was interpreted by ancient Greeks.

  • Some tragedies, for example, reunite families, as in Euripides' Ion and Iphigenia among the Taurians;
  • The dilemma that Oedipus faces here is similar to that of the tyrannical Creon;
  • However, there is much drama whit its grandeur and power;
  • I will divide the class into two groups of sixteen students each;
  • As a plot no other Greek play comes close;
  • Kitto said about Oedipus Rex that "it is true to say that the perfection of its form implies a world order," although Kitto notes that whether or not that world order "is beneficent, Sophocles does not say.

Before any discussion can happen, students need to understand the chorus and its role and meaning. My hope is that once they have more background information as well as the chance to compare and contrast ancient and modern choruses, each one of them will have a platform to start a discussion from.

Part of this discussion should be focused on looking at the play from the viewpoint of the ancient Greeks. This objective is important for students because there are many ways to view this play, and I want them to be able to look for more than just one way to interpret it.

Although the AP exam is what we are ostensibly preparing for, I believe that looking at the text from different points of view will prepare them for college. I also want students to be able to use this background knowledge and the class discussions to be able to analyze the play in essay form. A big part of the AP Literature course is timed writing in preparation for the AP exam at the end of the year, so I want students to practice timed writes as well as other writing strategies.

These plays didn't need to relate to one another in any way, except that they all had to be tragedies. Sophocles won second-place when he wrote and produced Oedipus Rex. There is evidence that thousands of tragedies were written, but we have manuscripts for only thirty-two in existence today. These tragedies have been widely read and performed over the last two thousand years. The amphitheater called a theatron that the tragedies were performed in was enormous.

Evidence shows that up to fifteen thousand people could be seated in the theatre. It is hard to know exactly what these theaters looked like in the sixth century BC because many of the original ruins were covered up when later theaters were built on top of them. The stage was a circle about twenty meters in diameter about sixty-five feet12 and the seats surrounded the stage on three sides and continued upward and outward. Although spectators in the upper sections probably couldn't see the actors and chorus very well, if at all, no one had any trouble hearing the actors because of the amazing acoustics.

Actors also had to have the similarities between oedipus the king oedipus rex and oedipus at colonus strong voices.

The word was extremely powerful during the time when rhetoric was born, and this is obvious seeing the Greeks' design of theatres with the priority for was everyone to be able to hear during the plays. The scenery on the stage was very basic—often it was just the stage, which was built with columns and decorated in the Greek style. In Greek theatre, just as in modern theatre, both actors and chorus members wore costumes—sometimes both were elaborate costumes, and sometimes chorus members wore ordinary Athenian dress.

Unlike modern theatre, everyone on stage wore masks that covered the whole head. Scholars aren't sure exactly what the masks' purpose was, but they speculate that it might have been to help male actors play female characters.

I would also guess that part of the function was to make the actors' features larger so that people far away could see the faces.

Marina Berzins McCoy

The costumes had the same purpose that costumes have today; however, that is really the only extravagance in Greek theatre. For most of my students, it's almost impossible to imagine watching a play in which there are no special effects, no lights, and practically no scenery.

I want them to understand, however, that for the Greeks, this was the highest form of entertainment and that most people went to plays and enjoyed them. Ordinary Athenians were often cast in chorus roles, so it could be said that they had a stake in going to see other plays. Often people would remember lines and sing them, just as we sing songs from the radio and even Broadway musicals. We will be looking at images from the nineteenth century that attempt to recreate the stage and costumes of ancient Greece.

Tragedy is a specific type of drama, and it has very specific characteristics. There could only be three actors on the stage at one time, and the chorus was made up of twelve to fifteen people Sophocles raised the number to fifteen.

Only men could act in tragedies or any Greek performance, for that matter. Tragedies were written in verse, and actors would either say or sing their lines.

Seeing Oedipus Rex: Using the Chorus to Understand the Tragedy

The chorus usually sang and danced between actors' lines. He choreographed the dances for the chorus as well as composing the music that the chorus sang. The only musical accompaniments were the aulos, which is a double-reeded instrument, 15 and sometimes a harp-type instrument. There were fairly strict rules for writing a tragedy.

  • I will also be utilizing direct instruction as a strategy to support student writing and vocabulary;
  • Oedipus chooses not to return to Corinth after hearing the oracle, just as he chooses to head toward Thebes, to kill Laius, to marry and to take Jocasta specifically as his bride; in response to the plague at Thebes, he chooses to send Creon to the Oracle for advice and then to follow that advice, initiating the investigation into Laius's murder;
  • Oedipus Rex fits into this structure perfectly, giving it amazing economy in terms of plot and purpose;
  • This would be probably most helpful to teachers, but would also be helpful for students;
  • To his horror, the oracle reveals that Laius "is doomed to perish by the hand of his own son";
  • The riddle the Sphinx asks is:

All main characters in tragedies had to be nobles, although sometimes they were disguised as beggars or some other unfortunate character. Gods often showed up in tragedies, not as physical characters necessarily but sometimes intervening on behalf of a character or criticizing others.

The English word tragedy often refers to horrible events; and although this can also be true in Greek tragedies, Oedipus Rex for example, Greek tragedies don't always end sadly, contrary to popular high school belief. They sometimes have a happy ending, but it's usually after something horrible almost happens, for example, in Euripides' Ion, a mother and son nearly kill each other, but the tragedy is averted at the last minute.

Some tragedies, for example, reunite families, as in Euripides' Ion and Iphigenia among the Taurians. The closest translation to the concept of "directing a play" translates roughly in Greek to "teach a chorus.

It was the director's job to teach normal Athenians how to sing and dance as members of the chorus, and doing so was probably more work than directing actors who already had some training.