Travel Back To Ancient Greece Through Sophocles’ The Oedipus Cycle

Experience Sophocles’ tragic work off the page in Athens and Thebes. 

The Blind Oedipus Commending his Children to the Gods
Bénigne Gagneraux, The Blind Oedipus Commending his Children to the Gods. PHOTO WIKIMEDIA

As a person who has primarily consumed fantasy novels, my home library features more Classic works than expected. Each possess a special spark of their own that solidified their elevated status in literature, while remaining relatable enough that they can foster special memories in readers similar to myself.

My first introduction to this novel occurred early in my high school career during an Honors literature class analysis of Oedipus Rex. Having never read this story before, I was particularly gripped by the mystery of the prophecy and scandalous twist in the end. The knowledge from this story also earned laugh later during AP Psychology when learning about some of Freud’s controversial theories.

Sophocles’ The Oedipus Cycle
Image by feelingmyshelves via Instagram

Besides presenting stories with jarring plots and tragic ends, Sophocles was an innovative writer who took risks with the presentation of his plays that are still utilized today. Fans of the writer can experience his work in new ways by immersing themselves in the grand cities that serve as the backdrop for so many beloved books and plays.

Athens, Greece

Despite its significant contributions off the page, Athens only appears in Oedipus at Colonus when he wanders outside the city’s wall after being banished from his kingdom. The land that the former king briefly rests on is described to be a grove, but travelers can visit the mountains and slopes that surround the city today.

Mount Hymettus, the mountain range outside of Athens, carries its own mythology, but travelers of all interests can enjoy activities they love at this location. Nature enthusiasts can spend their time hiking and sightseeing on the trails, while those interested in architecture and art can visit the Monastery of Kessariani. There are also several ancient amphitheaters that have been renovated, such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, to watch musical performances or even plays.

Image by greece via Instagram

There are many museums with diverse collections that are open to visitors. One location travelers can start is the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, which is a must-see for those seeking to expand their tastes outside of traditional western work.

Thebes, Greece

Though Athens is the capital of Greece, Thebes is also major city and the primary setting of the play Oedipus Rex. The story revolves around Oedipus’ life as a king and his adventure to unravel Delphi’s prophecy. The kingdom is also featured in the tragic play Antigone where the reader can see how the lives of Oedipus’ children play out once Creon seizes the throne.

Image by Yang Yang via Unsplash

Thebes is considered one of the longest inhabited cities in the world making it a cornucopia of opportunity for history enthusiasts to explore. The Archeological Museum of Thebes is a must-see for travelers looking for a more comprehensive look at the land’s history. The permanent exhibit features exclusive pieces that date as far back as the Paleolithic era, and the artifacts are arranged so that visitors can observe the political and social evolution in Boeotia.

Jade Hargrove

Jade is a Georgia native who has enjoys trying new foods, podcasts, and long car rides with friends. She hopes to one day travel to every French-speaking country in the world to experience the different dialects and cultures that can be found around the world.

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