Oedipus and the Dawn of Freud’s Oedipus Narrative: His very Selective Approach


The “Oedipus narrative” is one of the most prominent axioms of modernity, put forward by Freud in 1899. The Ancient Greek, mythical figure of Oedipus, king of Thebes, and his unspeakable fate, became a source of inspiration for the articulation of the theory according to which a child develops latent erotic attachment to the parent of the opposite sex and, through conflict with the parent of the same sex, emerges identified, maturer and emancipated. This narrative shifts the focus of attention from mythical Oedipus’ original literal but unintended taboo transgressions (patricide and incest) to any child’s alleged inner psychological symbolic transgressions of the same taboos, rendering it a pre-requisite element of the human condition. Did Freud read the myth selectively in its first stage? Did he read just the myth or are there other “texts”, contexts, notions, understandings that are a part of Freud’s interpretation? The article re-visits Freud’s introduction to the Oedipal theme in The Interpretation of Dreams (pub. 1899). It then re-traces the myth mostly through the path of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos and at times converses with other contexts and disciplines, focusing on Oedipus and the Other, taboo transgression as a metaphor, superiority complex and theological input.

Keywords: Oedipus, Sophocles, Freud, myth, interpretation, the Other, taboo transgression, superiority complex, interior colony, guilt

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