previous next

In order to understand the opening part of the play (as
Stage arrangements in the opening scene.
far as v. 201), it is necessary to form some distinct notion of the stage arrangements. It is of comparatively little moment that we cannot pretend to say exactly how far the aids of scenery and carpentry were actually employed when the play was first produced at Athens. Without knowing this, we can still make out all that is needful for a clear comprehension of the text. First, it is evident that the back-scene (the palace-front of so many plays) must here have been supposed to represent a landscape of some sort,—whether the acropolis of Athens was shown in the distance, or not. Secondly, the sacred grove on the stage must have been so contrived that Oedipus could retire into its covert, and then show himself (138) as if in an opening or glade, along which Antigone gradually leads him until he is beyond the precinct. If one of the doors in the back-scene had been used for the exit of Oedipus into the grove, then it would at least have been necessary to show, within the door, a tolerably deep vista. It seems more likely that the doors of the back-scene were not used at all in this play. I give a diagram to show how the action as far as v. 201 might be managed1.

Antigone leads in her blind father on the spectators' left. She places him on a seat of natural rock (the "1st seat" in the diagram). This rock is just within the bounds of the grove; which evidently was not surrounded by a fence of any kind, ingress and egress being free. When the Chorus approach, Antigone and her father hide in the grove, following the left of the two dotted lines (113). When Oedipus discloses himself to the Chorus (138), he is well within the grove. Assured of safety, he is gradually led forward by Antigone (173-191), along the right-hand dotted line. At the limit of the grove, in this part, there is a low ledge of natural rock, forming a sort of threshold. When he has set foot on this ledge of rock,—being now just outside the grove,—he is told to halt (192). A low seat of natural rock,—the outer edge (ἄκρου) of the rocky threshold,— is now close to him. He has only to take a step sideways (λέχριος) to reach it. Guided by Antigone, he moves to it, and she places him on it (the "2nd seat" in the diagram: v. 201).

1 I was glad to find that the view expressed by this diagram approved itself to a critic who is peculiarly well qualified to judge, — Mr J. W. Clark, formerly Fellow of Trin. Coll., Cambridge.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 138
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 201
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 113
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 173
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 192
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: