At Hour 25, the book club that just finished reading The Orestia continued on with the “Oedipus at Colonus” by Sophocles. As with The Orestia, I concentrated on the appearances of the Erinyes, the goddesses of revenge, rather than the human plot.
In The Orestia, the Eumenides are called everything, but “goddesses” until three quarters of the way through the third play. Here they are addressed as the goddesses “The all-seeing Eumenides the people here would call them…” around line 40
At line 85, Oedipus lets it slip out that the seeming accident of his arrival at this “inviolable” spot, was contrived by Apollo. Line 665 suggests that Apollo“ has been your escort here.” In retrospect, just like in “The Oresteia” Apollo was the god that started this whole disaster by his enigmatic response to the Corinthian prince’s question about his paternity. Just as in the Oresteia the “sweet daughters of primeval Darkness” don’t drink wine (don’t require wine libations) because Apollo tricked the sisters the Fates once by getting them drunk on wine. We might wonder here was Loriax is up to.
The locales initiate Oedipus into the rituals to placate the dread goddesses at Lines 125 & 480; “a wanderer, not a dweller in the land; otherwise he never would have advanced into this untrodden grove of the maidens with whom none may strive. Their name we tremble to speak, we pass them by with eyes turned away, mouthing the words, without sound or word,”
Another daughter arrives and the audience and chorus are told the situation in Thebes. “At first it was their decision that the throne should be left to Creon, and the city spared pollution, when they thought calmly about the ancient blight on our family, 370“ Creon is the once and forever regent of Thebes generation after generation cleaning up the messes made by the royal family. The “ancient blight on our family” was caused by the crime of their ancestor Laius. As Oedipus admits at Line 530, he has two blessing; his daughters and two curses; Laius’ and his own. However, when things calmed down the royal family designed to retain the throne “And the younger son has stripped the elder, Polyneikes, of the throne, (375)" Per primordial law as mentioned in Homer, the erinyes will support the elder brother in the fratricidal war to come.
Creon arrives around line 760 and say, “Oedipus, in the name of your ancestral gods, listen to me!” Sort of ironic and ineffectual calling upon the very gods that laid this curse on his family and chased him to Athens. “… consent to return to the city and the house of your ancestors, … since it was she that nurtured you long ago.” In point of fact it was the city of Corinth that nurtured and raised Oedipus. Creon is driven by his need to save his people from the grief to come. His heartless stern actions reek of desperation. He is wrong. But at the same time Oedipus is just as heartless and stern. For all his whining and begging, Oedipus is not giving in to Creon’s demands. Oedipus, as "implacable, inexorable" as the Erinyes. He is willing to curse his sons and sacrifice his daughters to get his revenge. This is a battle of titans on a cosmic scale for the sanctity of human life
Next up is his Oedipus’ son who did nothing to save his father from exile, who comes for his father’s blessing in the approving war for the throne called “The Seven Against Thebes”. Oedipus’ response is to re-double the family curse with all the power latent in his polluted self. He is as unforgiving and unmovable as the Erinyes themselves. His doomed son saying “This path now will be my destiny, ill-fated and evil, because of my father here and his Furies.” Oedipus can summon the Erinyes just like Clytemnestra did in the “Libation Bearers” of the Oresteia
The son’s parting words are “forgo your fierce mēnis against me, as I go forth to punish my brother, (1330)” “Menis” is a Greek word for wrath and generally reserved for the gods. It is anger of cosmic consequence. In the Oresteia the god Apollo admits to fearing the menis of Orestes “And I will aid the suppliant and rescue him! For the mēnis of the suppliant would be awesome to mortals and gods, if I intentionally abandoned him” The menis of Orestes would have unravelled the divine plot to establish the rule of law amongst mankind. Of what concern to the gods was the wrath of Oedipus at his sons? The answer is what happens next in Greek mythology. The banishment of Oedipus ultimately ignited the Theban wars. The Theban Wars, like the Trojan war were arranged by Zeus and Themis to lighten the load of the tribes of demi-gods upon Mother earth. (Cypria and Works&Days ll. 156-169b)
Oedipus and Theseus go apart from the others. Oedipus disappears and Theseus performs the required prayers “mouthing the words, without sound or word,”
A little something off topic hear I read in “Oedipus at Colonus”
“I say this because you, son of Kronos, lord Poseidon, have set the city on the throne of these words of praise by inventing, first of all on our own roadways, the bit that cures the rage of horses. Meanwhile the oar, well-shaped for rowing on the sea, is gliding past the land as it leaps to keep time with the singing and dancing of the hundred-footed Nereids.” 714
This is the clearest explantion I’ve seen as to how Poseidon could be the god of the horse and of the sea. With horse and bit he rules the roadway. With boat and oar he rules the sea-ways. He is master of horses; the steeds of earth and ships; the steeds of the sea.