Schedule and study questions for Sophocles:
November 5: Ajax
Note: after Akhilleus' death the Greeks decided to award his arms to the best of the Akhaians after Akhilleus, and so voted to award the arms to Odysseus, even though Ajax (Aias) believed that he deserved them. Teukros, Ajax' brother, is a bastard, and so lacks status in the army.
a. What exactly did Ajax do just before the play began? What did he try to do? How acceptable is either behavior?
b. What is Ajax like? In what ways is he admirable? In what ways not?
c. What is the function of Tekmessa in the play?
d. What do you make of the deceptive speech Ajax delivers before he kills himself?
e. Does Ajax deserve to be buried with due honors? Or should he be exposed to the scavaging animals as a traitor?
f. What is Odysseus like?
g. What is the play about?
h. Since Ajax dies just about half way through the play, how is the second part of the play also about him? In what way(s) do the two parts of the pay form a unified whole?
November 9: Oedipus The King
a. Beyond the narrative of Oedipus' self-discovery and blinding,
what, if anything, is this play about?
b.What is Oedipus like in terms of both character and personality?
c. What is Sophocles' attitude toward the events he portrays on stage? How can you tell?
d. To judge from the Ajax and the Oedipus, how are Sophocles' plays different from Aeschylus'?
November 12: Antigone
a. In what way(s) is Antigone a sympathetic figure? In what way(s) is she antipathetic?
b. In what way(s) is Creon a
sympathetic figure? In what way(s) is he antipathetic?
c. Beyond the simple narrative, what, if anything, is this play about?
d. What is Sophocles' attitude toward the events he portrays on stage? How can you tell?
e. Whose tragedy is it any way? Who is the tragic figure in the play? Why?