1. In Oedipus Rex, the Chorus repeatedly gives us moral lessons, often condemning “pride.” What is the Chorus’ function in the play, and what are we (the audience) to learn from them? Are we to take the Chorus’ proclamations as absolute truth, or is the Chorus just as fallible as the other characters? Is pride the only catalyst for the catastrophes of the play?
2. Discuss the theme of blindness and sight (both literal and figurative) in relation to knowledge and ignorance in Oedipus Rex. What are Sophocles’s views on what it takes to understand truth? How is “seeing” related to knowledge or ignorance? Who/what type(s) of people are capable of understanding truth? It might help to look at how these words (darkness/light, blindness/sight, knowledge/ignorance, etc) are used in reference to specific characters, which may, in turn, be a reflection of the Greek community.
3. When we think of leaders, we may also think of power, authority, and corruption. In Oedipus Rex, our two leaders are Oedipus and Kreon—is either the “ideal” ruler? What qualities make an “ideal” ruler? What are each man’s strengths and weaknesses? Compare and contrast either Kreon or Oedipus to a famous, historical ruler/leader of times past.
4. What is the role of religion in Oedipus Rex and/or Lysistrata? Which gods are worshiped and supplicated to? How are they worshipped, and why? Who takes part in religious rituals, and how? Consider how freewill and fate relate to religion. Compare and contrast this role of ancient Greek religion to a more common religion of today (i.e. Islam, Judaism, Christianity). What is similar, different?
5. Discuss the gender roles found in Lysistrata. Specifically, as this play is nearly 2,500 years old, how have the roles of men and women changed, if at all? What are men and women each responsible for? What is expected of men and women, not only in the home, but in the city/state as well? Consider how gender roles change across cultural and/or religious lines, as well as physical borders.
6. Lysistrata’s solution to end the Peloponnesian War is for women to withhold sexual relations from their husbands. This female solution “works” in the play, as it is a comedy and must have a happy ending. However, could such a solution have worked back then, and would such a solution work in today’s world? (How/why?) Under what circumstances might an “abstinence” ploy (or some form of boycott) work to bring about a war’s end? If not war, could a boycott/abstinence ploy work to bring about another form of change? (i.e. voting, rights to property, liberty, education, etc). In answering this, consider countries in plights similar to (yet far worse off than) ancient Greece here: http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/international/Ten-Worst-Countries-for-Women.html