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Oedipus and Antigone: Is there a destiny that shapes our end?

I.  Introduction:

In ancient Greek culture and religion, fate was believed to be absolutely fixed and unavoidable, which is why oracles had such an important role.   Since a  person’s destiny was believed to be determined even before birth, those who could afford to use fortune tellers sought out the best they could find, and the Oracle of Thebes was thought to be the very best.

Sophocles did not write Antigone, the play we have been reading, as a stand-alone work, but as one of a trio of plays revolving around the tragic Greek figure Oedipus.  Oedipus and his descendants suffer the tragedy of an entire world that is ruined because of a predestined fate – or is it because of belief in predestined fate?  After becoming more familiar with the other two plays, you and your classmates are to take a position on the role of fate in all of our lives – either for or against – and be prepared to defend that opinion, using evidence from the plays and other sources, in a classroom debate.

 II.  Your Assignment:  

Accumulate sufficient evidence to be able to both defend and refute the following statement:  There is an unavoidable destiny that determines the shape of our lives.

At the end of the week, you will be expected to take part in a classroom debate arguing both sides of this issue.  Sides will be randomly assigned by pulling names out of a hat the morning of the debate, so you will need to have on hand examples and opinions from a wide variety of sources to bolster the point of view you are supporting. 

A.  Resources

Though the plays weren’t written in order, I am SHOWing them in order this week during lunch as follows:

You may also find the following online resources very useful in gathering evidence:

An interactive web game to help you understand Oedipus Rex:


By the same guy, The Antigone Game, to help you find out how well you understand the play.  Beautiful graphics and photography!



A great study guide for this tragic trio of plays:


Another study guide for Sophocles’ Antigone



Online text of the plays:


Oedipus at Colonus:

Oedipus Rex:

Thinking about plagarizing an essay?  Free online essays about Oedipus and Antigone:




B.  How to Prepare:

1.  Read and/or view the plays individually or with your group

2.  Make sure you really understand all the details of this dramatic trio, because otherwise your opponents will leave you in the dust!  I strongly recommend The Antigone Game and The Oedipus Game online as the best way to make sure you know the material.

3.  Gather ye evidence while ye may!  Your team may use examples from these three plays, the Bible, Kabbalistic literature . . . whatever your hearts desire.  Consider other works you have studied, and other playwrights.  Then, if it will help you during argument, you may want to plaster these snippets of evidence on index cards, or in a notebook. 

4.  Have a good breakfast and possibly a few cups of coffee.

5.  Come prepared to argue!  (Psyching out the other side is fine -- Power dressing or arriving in costume encouraged!)


III.  DEBATE:  Your Final Analysis

            Half of your grade comes from producing a well-thought-out but EXTREMELY short essay, no more than 500 words in length, in which you reflect on how study of these works has either strengthened your initial point of view, or caused you to change your mind about the role of fate in our lives.  Please use the Rubric for Short Thesis Essays found on the Rubric page of this website.


IV.  Scoring:   Don’t worry, if you’re well prepared and a loud, active participant, you win the big prize –  class participation points!  Essay points are awarded based on your adherence to the standards of the grading rubric.

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