Laius beats Oedipus at the crossroads; Oedipus kills his father. In many ways this image captures one of the more horrific relationships that Sophocles' extant plays provide us?that of father and son. Sexual jealousy, political rivalry, the power of a father's curse, the rage of a son's despair, these images of a truly dysfunctional family blood tie have left a legacy that is at once the stuff of psychoanalytic model and a long tradition in both literature and film that still fills us at once with fear and wonder. How can a relationship that should be so close become so estranged? How does the one who should be the most beloved become the object of hatred and scorn.
We will closely read four plays of Sophocles together, as well as view a couple of modern adaptations. In the latter part of the course we will also read one play of Euripides and one of the comic poet Aristophanes for contrast and comparison. Bi-weekly short papers and regular class participation are the requirements of this first year seminar.