The downfall of Croesus and Oedipus: Tracing affinities between Herodotus’ Histories and Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus

Haywood, Jan and Post, Doris (2021). The downfall of Croesus and Oedipus: Tracing affinities between Herodotus’ Histories and Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. Classical World (In press).

Abstract

In this paper, we compare the downfall of Herodotus’ Croesus and Sophocles’ Oedipus against four central themes: ignorance and learning too late, misplaced hope, mutability of fortune, and fate and responsibility. This reveals striking affinities between the two texts, especially in the conception of happiness and the working of divine and human causation. Secondly, it shows how Herodotus and Sophocles engage their audiences by employing similar narrative techniques, notably through the use of different focalisations. Finally, it demonstrates that many of the features highlighted in Aristotle’s Poetics for the finest tragedy not only apply to Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus but also to the Croesus logos.

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