Another side of the story...
edited: Monday, September 20, 2004
By Fr. Kurt Messick
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, September 20, 2004
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An intriguing new book
The myth surrounding Oedipus is one that is well ingrained into the psyche of modern culture, thanks to the twin pillars of the original Oedipus cycle of stories from ancient Greece, and the more modern adaptation of those mythological stories by Sigmund Freud into a controversial feature of the human psychological development. The Oedipus complex is well-known; the stories from which Freud derived his inspiration are similarly well-known, but generally only from the perspective of Oedipus.
It was not uncommon in ancient mythology and drama (there was no way to separate the two conveniently) for the narratives to be told from one perspective only, that of the hero or the tragic figure, which, in the case of Oedipus, is one in the same. Even more rare is the voice of a woman - Antigone is a rare character in ancient Greek stories in this regard.
Authors Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood collaborated to add a new dimension to the Oedipus tale, one that is both modern and faithful to the ancient stories - here we meet the primary character Iokaste, the mother of Oedipus, doomed to marry her son despite best efforts to prevent the event, and in becoming his wife to commit a sin that would mean the downfall of the family, if not the city of Thebes.
Iokaste is presented here as a strong character, not merely the victim upon which these tragedies are played out - a mother who loses her son, only to regain him again in a most shocking fashion, one that is incredibly costly. Iokaste is presented here in full emotion and full action - near the conclusion, Iokaste recounts that she has been queen of Thebes for nearly forty years. The reader can sense the heartbreak as she thinks, 'I have four - nay, five children, and a husband whom I adore; who has adored me up until yesterday.'
Iokaste is presented here as an introspective woman, but also a woman of action. Fate has dealt her a bad hand, but she still finds love and value in those around her. She is a strong woman, but as with all human beings (particularly in the Greek stories), fate is ultimately stronger.
The writing is lively and intense, and the action is both interesting and dramatic; this is no dry-and-dusty tome from days of yore. The authors do us a service in adding a new element to the narrative of Oedipus; perhaps a sequel following Antigone would be a good follow-up? One can hope...