Oedipus City (Ödipus Stadt)
by Sophokles, Euripides, Aischylos
"You’ll be the end of this city."
The curse on the house of the Labdacids is one of the central myths of Greek antiquity – and thus part of the origins of theatre itself. The 'big three' writers of Greek tragedy – Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides – each created plays about these mythic figures, in particular 'Oedipus Rex', 'Seven Against Thebes', 'The Phoenician Women' and 'Antigone'. Taken together, they chronicle the family saga of Oedipus the King, his rivalrous sons Eteocles and Polynices, and his daughters Antigone and Ismene. But they also tell the story of the city of Thebes, whose political fortune is closely bound up with this family and its fate. Patterns of dysfunction and destruction recur in this saga of a ruling family in which violence begets violence, power engenders countervailing power and fear feeds fear. Even Creon, the wise ruler and statesman who assumes power after the killing spree has come to an end, tries to compensate for his alleged weakness by being overly harsh. In doing so, he destroys the very city he is meant to protect.
A new translation for the Deutsches Theater recounts the story of Thebes and its rulers as a trilogy. This march to catastrophe in three parts enables us to look beyond the individual tragic heroes and to see the interconnection of humanity, power and myth.
August 31, 2012