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Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles' Tragic Hero and His Time

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300074239
ISBN-10: 0300074239
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Knox is director emeritus of Harvard's Centre for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300074239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300074239
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,204,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The superlative reviews from publications as disparate as the New York Times, the New Yorker and Hellenic World (!)should be sufficient inducement to convince anyone with the least interest in Sophocles and "Oedipus Tyrannus" to buy this book.
Bernard Knox is perhaps the greatest living classicist and he may just be one of the greatest of all time. He writes with an ease and lucidity that renders the most difficult subject available to the lay reader. He has an uncanny facility to sum up in a paragraph a subject that has occupied him for twenty or thirty pages. Indeed one of the delights of this book is that at the end of each section there appears a wonderfully pithy summation.
When this book was first published it (surprisingly) received immediate and positive reviews from the New York Times and the New Yorker. But it was almost universally ignored by the classical community who were perhaps annoyed at the twitting they received in Knox's introduction. Dismayed by the appearance of an article entitled "The Carrot in Classical Antiquity", Knox had lashed out at the "excessive technicality" of his colleagues. This will remind many of us of Victor Davis Hanson's brilliantly polemical attack on the classical establishment in "Who Killed Homer".
Time, however, was on Knox' side and he went, on, as I said, to become a giant in his field. In 1998, "Oedipus at Thebes" was republished for a new and grateful generation of students.
This is a true tour de force. Knox took as his starting point a statement made by Walter Headlam. Headlam had claimed that "when embarking on the elucidation of a Greek text, the scholar should first learn the text by heart and the read the whole of Greek literature looking for parallel passages." Sounds almost preposterous. Right?
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Format: Paperback
This is by far the best (critical) text ever written on Sophocles and Greek tragedy. This book delves into the Oedipus myth and covers many themes in the Oedipus, particularly the primary theme between fate and free will, which is a direct refutation to Freud and his conception of the myth: in "The Interpretation of Dreams," Freud labels the Oedipus a "tragedy of fate." His claim is certainly controversial and Knox deals with it in a very thorough manner. Oedipus at Thebes not only displays an apt critical analysis, but also displays a very unique writing style: very elequoent, yet easy to understand. This text is useful for research as well as for pleasure purposes. Bernard Knox also delivers a wonderful analysis of the Oedipus in the Introduction/Notes to Fagles' translation of "The Three Theban Plays."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very lucidly written, reflecting the authors thorough understanding of how the details of Oedipus's story stand for and illuminate the deeper reaches of human nature.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very good book on the subject of Oedipus, but not quite the best book on Sophocles or Oedipus. I liked both Bates' "Sophocles-poet and dramatist" and Weinstock's "Sophokles" a wee bit better, but that may be just my personal taste. Knox has a very bad habit of insisting that, by playing with the translations of tense and the shifting of meaning, and the redistributing of stress in a given sentence, that whole new meanings of the text can be 'discovered'. This is a very lazy, haphazard way to engage in critiquing, for it is not research. And Fagle's translation is plodding. Takes the poetry right out of the text.
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Format: Paperback
Oedipus At Thebes, Sophocles' Tragic Hero & His Time, Bernard Knox; Yale University Press, Inc. (1957)

"The plague, whether or not the chorus is right in calling it Ares [a Greek god], is of course, in the last analysis, from a religious point of view, the will of the gods, but Sophocles is clearly insisting, by his unparalleled image of the arrows of Apollo as allied against his plague & his equally unparalleled identification of the plague with Ares, that the plague is not to be understood as Apolline interference, that is the work of the play's external factor."

This is my nomination for one of the ten worst written sentences of the 20th century*.

OED was regretfully pulped on April 4th 2011 - about ten minutes after reading commenced.

*DEATH BY COMMAS: "The plague, 1... Ares [a Greek god], 2... analysis, 3... view, 4... gods, 5... insisting, 6... Ares, 7... interference, 8 ... factor."

P.S.: "Do not join independent clauses by a comma" is advised by Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style." A period - breaking this tsunami of gibberish into two sentences - is necessary after "gods, 5."

And somehow, the "tags" option did not appear, so here goes:

Oedipus, Sophocles, Apollo, Greek Theatre, Bernard Knox, Spanish Civil War, Yale University, Sigmund Freud, World War II
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