Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King


The theme of recognition plays an important role in Homer's The Odyssey and Sophocles' Oedipus the King. Two key recognition scenes are that between Odysseus and Penelope and that between Oedipus and Jocasta. Many differences can be found between the two, and although they are less apparent certain similarities can be drawn as well.

The way in which identity is established in these two texts is different. From the beginning, Odysseus and Oedipus are in reversed situations: Odysseus has always known who he is, whereas Oedipus's goal is to discover his own true identity. One of the last people who Odysseus reveals himself to is his wife, Penelope. After he has killed the suitors, he sends the nurse, Eurykleia, to summon Penelope. Penelope's first reaction is disbelief even after Eurykleia mentions the scar on his leg. Penelope hesitates to accept the truth, telling her, "it would be hard for you to baffle the purposes of the everlasting gods" (XXIII.81-82). Penelope suspects that some clever god has disguised himself as the beggar and has slain the suitors. Only after she tests him with the knowledge of the marriage bed does she finally believe that this man is her husband. Aside from Eurykleia, Odysseus...

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