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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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In the wordy duel between Theseus and Creon, there are several hints made about the possibility of an outbreak of violence between Thebes and Athens. This proves that Oedipus' earlier words about an outbreak of a war between Thebes and its neighbors may soon come true. In legends of later events in Thebes, Theseus espoused the cause of the seven Argive warriors who fought and fell at the gates of Thebes in their attempt to restore Polyneices' right to rule. When Creon refused burial to the seven dead warriors, who had unsuccessfully attacked Thebes, Theseus joined Adrastus (Polyneices' father-in-law) and marched against Creon, defeated him, and gave the rites of burial to Polyneices and the slain heroes.


This scene, therefore, presents a sophisticated debate that explores the relative rights and wrongs of the case for Oedipus' return to Thebes. This was a device that Euripides, Sophocles' contemporary, often used in his plays, and which Sophocles borrowed. The two dimensions apparent in this debate are the political angle and the moral issue of Oedipus' guilt or innocence. This latter part of Episode II, with its weighty arguments, contrasts sharply with the hectic action presented in the first half of the same episode.

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