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(p.311) Thebes
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on Greece and the fifth century BCE, a time and place of drastic changes in attitudes to what it means to be human, a period of intense struggle between the gods and humans, a series of battles marvelously shaped and chronicled by Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex greatest of them all. The setting is crucial, for Sophocles lived his long life in the abyss between the mythos of Homer and the logos of Plato. Perhaps the greatest tension of his time was in the attitudes to predicament, for while the archaic poets had taken a man's social standing to reflect his ability to handle contradiction, the new philosophers saw paradox as the worst enemy of human reason. Oedipus Rex tells about Oedipus, King of Thebes who has been defeated by his own means. The theory of proper names and definite descriptions is the intellectual engine that propels the personæ of Oedipus Rex from a set of true premises to an equally true conclusion.

Keywords:   Greece, Thebes, fifth century, Sophocles, tragedy, Oedipus Rex, Homer, proper names, definite descriptions, human reason

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