Facts in Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex 7
"a single day..."   (Oedipus Rex)

The plots of many Greek tragedies occur within the span of a single day, minimizing the need for many different props and scene changes. This humorous little phrase refers to this tradition, which audiences at the time would have understood.

"How did a bandit come to dare so much..."   (Oedipus Rex)

Some scholars liken Oedipus Rex to a detective story, as much of it involves the title character discovering clues and trying to figure out the mysterious inception of the plague.

"Ismenus..."   (Oedipus Rex)

Ismenus, son of Oceanus and Tethys, god of the Ismenus River in Thebes. In some accounts, Ismenus helps defend Thebes against the attacks of the seven champions of Argos, another Greek city-state, in the years following the events of Oedipus Rex. As the god of the river, the Thebans pray to Ismenus in hopes of protecting their water source.

"the marketplace..."   (Oedipus Rex)

The marketplace, the Agora, was the center of life for Greeks in the city-states. The Theban Agora was home to the shrine of the Apollo Rescuer and the shrine of his sister Artemis Eukleia. Suppliants were known to gather there in times of great hardship and pray to the many gods.

"new-sprung race of old Cadmus..."   (Oedipus Rex)

Cadmus, Prince of Tyre, brother of Europa, was said to have founded the city of Thebes and was credited with introducing the Phoenician alphabet into Greek. His descendants and citizens form a new "race" of people governed by Oedipus, King of Thebes, who gives the play its title.

"the orchestra..."   (Oedipus Rex)

In theatre, the orchestra is the pit directly in front of the stage where musicians play. In ancient Greek tragedies, the Chorus remained in the orchestra for the duration of the play, only stepping out onto the stage when stage direction dictated it. Sometimes, the Chorus will speak directly to the characters in Oedipus Rex; other times, they merely sing.

"suppliants..."   (Oedipus Rex)

In Greek culture, suppliants wore or carried special emblems, such as olive branches, in order to identify themselves, and traditionally knelt before the person they were supplicating to touch either their knees or chin, which were thought to be connected to a person’s heart. For the Greeks, it was taboo to harm a suppliant, and anyone who did so would be cursed.