Who is Tiresias? What events have led up to him being summoned and what has done to anger Oedipus
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Classical Civilization (Tragedy) Context Question. (a) Who is Tiresias? What events have led up to him being summoned and what has done to anger Oedipus? (b) This passage contains references to sight and blindness. Analyse in detail how Sophocles uses these themes in the passage. What dramatic effect do these references have? (c) Describe how Oedipus is portrayed in this passage. Compare this portrayal with his portrayal in the rest of the play. In your answer, you should consider his actions and the way he talk to other characters. ANSWERS (a) Tiresias is an important character in the play. This is because he is physically blind but is still mentally sighted. "Blind as you are, you can feel all the more what sickness haunts our city" He is a highly respectable prophet in the play.
He gives comforting words to his people, as a responsible and committed leader and then sends for Tiresias. On Tiresias' arrival, he questions him about the presence of this murderer. Tiresias approach is hesitant, as he clearly knows that the person responsible for the city's misfortune is the King Oedipus himself. Oedipus' eager nature is made evident when he forces out the truth from Tiresias. Oedipus portrays a more negative attitude when he concludes that Tiresias is responsible for the death of Laius in conspiracy with Creon. These then outbursts in an argument between Tiresias and Oedipus, which eventually brings us to this point of the play. (b) The theme of sight and blindness in this passage basically emphasizes the fact that Oedipus is physically able to see, but is mentally blind, while Tiresias, who is physically blind is able to see the true situation of things.
" Blind, lost in the night, endless night that nursed you". By this, not only is he saying that Tiresias is blind, but also that it is the cause of lack of correct knowledge. The use of the theme of sight and blindness in the passage helps the audience build our perspectives on the characters involved- Tiresias and Oedipus, as they are able to develop. When Tiresias illustrates that Oedipus is mentally blind by telling him that he is " the murderer you hunt", we are able to a notice Oedipus' aggressive nature when he starts to insult Tiresias simply because he reveals the Omens of Apollo as seen. "It does but not for you, old man. You've lost your power, stone- blind, stone- deaf - senses, eyes blind as stone!" and on the other hand, we see Tiresias' self control as he is able to withhold his anger after he is being insulted.
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