Isn’t it Ironic? Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus

Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, which was not awarded first prize when it was first performed, was praised by Aristotle as the most perfect of tragedies. Aristotle’s judgment has surely won the day, for Oedipus is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. Indeed, since the time of Aristotle, Oedipus has been a continuous source of inspiration for works of philosophy, art, literature, psychology, music, and more.

This course will examine the dramatic text closely and analyze its poetic construction. What makes this play so powerful, even after nearly two and half millennia? Class participants will explore oppositions the play raises, such as fate and free will, hubris and shame, reality and illusion, the sacred and the profane. Along the way, we will take some side journeys into the play’s Greek construction, its original social milieu, the performance of ancient drama, and its impact on culture and thought throughout the ages. Oedipus Tyrannus is not only timeless; it is also timely, raising personal and political issues that resonate with contemporary readers and audiences living at the start of the second decade of the second millennium C.E. After all, the play begins with … a pestilence.


Group Leader: ROBERT MANNING
Venue: King's Chapel Parish House
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/31/2022
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 14
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 1- 2 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Robert Manning is a graduate of Providence College and Boston University School of Law. He has been a labor lawyer for 30 years, representing workers and negotiating for unions in many industries and employment sectors. Robert and his wife are residents of Beacon Hill and their two children attend Boston Public Schools. Robert is passionate about the humanities and, post law school, has pursued these passions at Harvard Extension School, studying, among other things, screenwriting, Greek, Latin, German, religion, classical literature, and philosophy. He is a member of the Classical Association of New England.