An indispensable guide to the myth of Oedipus this book is the first to analyze its long and varied history from ancient times to the modern day, and presented with an authoritative survey that considers Oedipus in art and music as well as in literature.

Lowell Edmunds accepts this variation as the driving force in its longevity and popularity. Refraining from seeking for an original form of the myth, Edmunds relates the changes in content in the myth to changes in meaning, eschewing the notion that one particular version can be set as standard.


For a person who is about to embark on any serious discourse or task, it is proper
to begin first with the gods.

(Demosthenes, Letters 1.1)


The gods and heroes of classical antiquity are part of our culture. Many function as sources of creative inspiration for poets, novelists, artists, composers, filmmakers and designers. Greek tragedy’s enduring appeal has ensured an ongoing familiarity with its protagonists’ experiences and sufferings, while the choice of Minerva as the logo of one of the newest British universities, the University of Lincoln, demonstrates the ancient gods’ continued emblematic potential. Even the world of management has used them as representatives of different styles: Zeus and the ‘club’ culture for example, and Apollo and the ‘role’ culture: see C. Handy, The Gods of Management: who they are, how they work and why they fail (London, 1978).

This series is concerned with how and why these figures continue to fascinate and intrigue. But it has another aim too, namely to explore their strangeness. The familiarity of the gods and heroes risks obscuring a vital difference between modern meanings and ancient functions and purpose. With certain exceptions, people today do not worship them, yet to the Greeks and Romans they were real beings in a system comprising literally hundreds of divine powers. These range . . .

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