Oedipus Rex As Tragedy : The Philosopher Must Be Crazy

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Oedipus Rex as Tragedy: The Philosopher Must Be Crazy

Throughout the ages many scholars have agreed with Aristotle 's assessment of Oedipus Rex (the Athenian tragedy written by Sophocles) as the truest form of tragedy; however, modern viewers might remark that it is unworthy of such praise and instead should be exemplified as the proof that an addition to Aristotle 's ideal of tragedy itself is required: the element of timelessness. Throughout history, many have believed that man 's ability to produce a poetic reflection of the world around him is what sets him apart from lesser lifeforms. Italian Jurist Giambattista Vico famously wrote in his book The New Science that, "This poetic wisdom, the knowledge of the theological poets, was unquestionably the first wisdom of the world..." This belief spurred philosophers to extensive study on the nature of the poetic. Aristotle is one such scholar. The result of this study is the tenet of katharsis (catharsis), which he introduces through his interpretation of the form and function of the tragic poem. Tragedy as a work of art, Aristotle claimed, can be defined as the, "imitation of an action," specifically of the joys and sorrows of mankind. While seemingly simplistic, this principal concept of tragedy as mimicry is pivotal to the development of axiomatic catharsis, or the reaction to the mimicked pity and fear presented by the performed tragedy which culminates in the purging of the same emotions from within the viewer,

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