oedipus myth

My Classical Mythology Professor

“Hephaestus is really great. I mean, he only ever really does that one little thing of molesting his newly born sister, but other than that he’s cool.”

“Apollo’s just a sociopath, and a loser version of Zeus, really.”

“So either Helen falls in love with Paris, which she doesn’t want to do, or Aphrodite ships her off to Egypt to get a master’s degree in pharmacology.”

“Whenever Achilles had a problem, he’d just run home crying to his mom. His mom always had the same advice: stop fighting, eat, have sex with a woman. He only ever did the first thing, which is probably why he got killed.”

“Basically, Apollo got mad at a bunch of people for not having sex with him and they ended up worse off - mostly turned into plants, for some reason.”

“Cassandra turned Apollo down since she held a vow of chastity, but of course Apollo took it personally and cursed her.”

“You can always pick out Odysseus in pictures ‘cause he’s always wearing a stupid little hat.”

“The gods tend to have these conflicting powers or personality types. Ares, super feared by mortals and always bloody and angry, is basically the fool of the gods. Zeus, almighty king of the gods, is completely helpless when it comes to his libido.”

“So Brad Pitt spends nine years in the harem - you’ve all seen 300 right? I always picture Achilles as Brad Pitt now. Anyway, Brad Pitt’s in the harem, bored out of his mind for 9 years cause he’s already been trained for hero stuff at Chiron’s hero academy…”

“So Orlando Bloom is just moping in his room while the Greeks are camping outside of Troy, and Hector finds him and is like, ‘Come on, Paris, this whole war is because of you!’”

“Have you all seen the Disney version of Hercules, where Hades is super evil and angry? Yeah, that’s not really right. Hades was more like the weird, basically harmless brother of Poseidon and Zeus.”

“I love this vase of the Underworld, it really shows the relationship between Hades and Persephone. I mean, Persephone’s standing there like ‘Whip that guy more! Punish him less! Stop slacking!” and Hades’ is just lounging on the chair like, “Darling, how about a roast for dinner?”

“The thing is, Oedipus tried really hard not to kill his father and marry his mother!”

A Sphinx (Greek: Σφίγξ) is a mythical creature with the head of a human & the body of a lion. In Greek tradition, it has a human head, the haunches of a lion, and sometimes the wings of a bird. It’s supposed to be treacherous and merciless - those who can’t answer its riddle suffer the fate of being killed and eaten by the ravenous monster. Its what happens in the myth of Oedipus. Unlike the female Greek Sphinx, the Egyptian Sphinx is usually shown as male. The Egyptian Sphinx was viewed as benevolent, but having a ferocious strength similar to the Greek version. Both were thought of as guardians, often flanking temple entrances. The oldest known sphinx was found near Gobekli Tepe at Nevali Çori in Turkey. It was dated to 9,500 BCE.

Analysis || Shinji and Misato, the New Century Oedipus and Electra :||

To celebrate the milestone of 1000 followers for this blog, we’re offering you a detailed analysis post about the similarities two of the most loved main characters of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji Ikari and Misato Katsuragi, share with two tragic, old and yet immortal dramatic characters, two protagonists of many plays and famous books, symbols of both modern philosophy and ancient Greek theater productions: Electra and Oedipus.

We can’t talk about them, though, if we don’t know what their story is about before - their legend, often matter of school studies too.  Let’s start with maybe the most complex character, that shares great analogies with out favorite insecure pilot: Oedipus, often considered one of the most famous (or maybe infamous) protagonists of Greek mythology.

THE MYTH

The loved king and queen of Thebes, Laius and Jocasta, were good and right rulers. One day, the king asked the oracle of Delphi (a sort of fortune-teller gifted by the Sun God Apollo) if the queen would have soon given him a heir - and unfortunately the oracle had a very clear answer for him: the magician reccomanded the king not to have a baby with the queen, since the child would have grown up to be a calamity for the city of Thebes and its people. As if it wasn’t enough: the oracle also predicted that the boy would have killed his own father and sexually joined his mother.
Laius never forgot the horrible prophecy and - after some time - when the queen Jocasta gave birth to a boy, he took the newborn baby and abandoned him on a hill, thinkiing animals or criminals would have done the rest; before leaving him though, Jocasta pierced the soles of the baby’s feet with two nails.

However, a shepherd named Forba - allerted by the cry - found the baby and took it to another city, Corinth. The king of Corinth, Polybus, couldn’t have children with his wife and Forba happily offered him the infant. There, Polybus gave him the name Oedipus - which literally means “swollen feet”.

Years passed and Oedipus grew strong and vigorous, surrounded by so much love. But one day, during a banquet, a young prince mentioned how Oedipus was a foundling welcomed into the king’s palace. At those words Oedipus decided ask the oracle of Delphi to know the truth of his origins. The only thing he got to know was that his return to Thebes would have been a tragedy of some sort. 
Angry and outraged, the boy didn’t return to the palace and started travelling the world, seeking for a place to stay. 
On the way, Oedipus came to a place where three roads crossed each others. There he encountered a chariot driven by his birth-father, Laius. They fought over who had the right to go first and Oedipus killed Laius when the charioteer tried to run him over. 

Bad luck wanted that he reached the doors of Thebes, one day; there he met a monster, sent by Hera, a goddess: a sphinx that killed and ate all the men who wanted to enter Thebes but that couldn’t answer her riddle -  “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”. Oedipus knew the answer and replied with “A man” - killing the monster and saving the city. 
He became the hero of Thebes and Jocasta, the just widowed queen, fell in love with the boy. They married and had four children, fullfilling the ancient prophecy. After the marriage though, a great plague started decimating the population of the city. The oracle was questioned again and confirmed that the pestilence would have stopped when the killer of Laius had left the city and exiled.. Panicked, Oedipus called another very old magician to his palace that finally explained him the truth about his origins and parents; the boy also understands he killed his father, Laius, on his way to Thebes.

Jocasta tried to convince the magician that her baby had died years and years ago. But, as she saw the soles of Oedipus’s feet - still with the signs of having been pierced - she fell into despair and shame. The queen of Thebes killed herself and Oedipus escaped the city and its anger.

EVERY CHILD IS A LITTLE OEDIPUS

Sigmund Freud often mentioned these words when referring to very young male children. It’s not unusual to see small boys being overly attached to their mothers, after all - but what does a baby boy thinks of his mother? And what about the father? This led to the formulation of the so-called “Oedipus Complex”.

The Oedipus complex occurs during the phallic stage of someone’s psychosexual development (3-6 years old) and it’s later repressed into the unconscious of the boy. It also seems to lead into the formation of both Ego and Libido - so it seems to be pretty a crucial step for children’s minds. The irrational competition with the father for the possession of the mother, the awareness of their own bodies, the understending of the differences between male and female bodies and the curiosity that leads them to often undress for fun… all these (and many more) features and sensations seem to occur around the phallic stage of a child. It’s being said that the love for a mother is even more complicated to explain, because it actually begins right after a baby is born, with the oral stage - where the baby finds pleasure by drinking milk from his mother’s breasts.

The mother remains the parent who primarily gratifies the male child’s desires, Freud said, as a first source of libidinal energy for a little boy. This leads the child to be jealous, most of the time, of his father; that would explain why little boys often wish to sleep together - innocently - with their mother, or to follow them into the bathroom. Moreover, to facilitate the desired exclusive union with the mother, the boy’s Id ( uncoordinated instinctual trends ) wants to kill his own father.
At the same time, though, the boy fears the adult male presence of his father. The Ego ( rational thoughts ) of the child prevents him from practically killing the hated parent; he knows that the father is the stronger of the two males competing to possess the woman.  Nonetheless, the boy remains ambivalent about his father’s place in the family, and often manifests the so-called fear of castration by the physically greater father; the fear is an irrational, subconscious manifestation of the infantile Id.

The resolution of the Oedipus complex is important for development of the the male infantile Super-ego: by identifying with a parent, the boy internalizes Morality, choosing to comply with societal rules, rather than reflexively complying in fear of punishment.

THE CASE OF SHINJI IKARI

Some critics have recognised how much Evangelion’s story can resemble the famous Oedipus myth. It’s easy to find various analogies with the series.
Shinji - just like Oedipus, can be called a “son of a prophecy”. If the Secret Dead Sea Scrolls had predicted the Third Impact and the arrival of the Angels, then, they also predicted the arrival of Shinji too, in some way. Or at least, his destiny was programmed even when he was too young to understand it: Yui knew, after all, how much her son would have suffered for a greater good.

It’s easy to understand how Oedipus is similar to Shinji by looking a the different paternal figures the two boys had. King Laius, who thought abandoning his only son and leaving him to die would have gone against the fullfillment of the propechy, was killed by his own son for a quirk of fate. Oedipus didn’t know the man he killed on the road was his biological father. 
Shinji, on the other hand, is well aware of who his father is. From the moment he abandoned him as a child, Shinji started feeling like an unwanted human being and the anger and hate he feels for Gendo are indeed some of the results of Gendo leaving his son growing up with a teacher/his uncles in the manga. But there’smore… as Shinji soon starts “competing” for Rei’s attentions, going against his own father: from the moment he notices Rei talking and smiling to Gendo in private, he starts trying to get the girl’s attention; of couse, we know who Rei Ayanami really is and we clearly remember the famouse episode…

SHINJI:  Oh, when we were cleaning room today, you were wringing the floorcloth… to me you looked like a mother.
REI:  A mother?
SHINJI:  Yeah, that was just like the mother’s way of wringing. I bet you’ll become a housewife.

Shinji couldn’t have known, at that time, how painfully true his words were being. In fact, he only discovers the truth about his mother and Rei during the last scene of episode 23, and that only leaves him more angry and confused than ever. Let’s remember though that Shinji never felt true sexual attraction for Rei Ayanami, rappresentation of the non-carnal pure “maternal” love, the Eros (with Asuka being the sexual impulse of both love and death, Thanatos) for Shinji’s heart and mind.

Yet, that still remains a sort and form of attraction. And it doesn’t stop Shinji from hating his father even more. Both Gendo and his son, competing for the love of the “woman”… a clear yet insane example of the famous “Complex”.
In Shinji’s mind, while Yui appears as an angelic being caressing his cheeks - with very fair and long hair and a perfect body - Gendo is often depicted as a disproportionately tall man, with flashing angry eyes and sometimes skin of different innatural colors.

Is the the fear of castration - Freud often mentioned - present in Shinji? Well, he isn’t a baby anymore but in the series he is, without any doubt, a teenager stuck into the “oral stage” he never truly resolved, because of the trauma of Yui’s death when he was barely 3. Still, the desire of killing the hated father has often taken adavantage of Shinji’s mind and thoughts. These primal impulses are very common in our protagonist - and often destructive too: from the time he tried to escape Tokyo-3 alone, to the moment he chose to masturbate in front of the comatose Asuka (and still, this wan’t a real impulse… he had the time to lock the door, probably doing something to the camera and then dress her up again).
Some examples: after Toji was injuried, Shinji tried to destroy the pyramid of the Geofront, in the manga he also tried punching Gendo after being hospitalized and being called to his office… always in the manga, in a nightmare, he even manages to kill his father. And finally Gendo himself confesses to Shinji how much he came to hate his son for the love of Yui. Is Gendo another kind of “Oedipus”? Well, we can’t consider his words fully honest, if we look at the last chapters of Sadamoto’s work anyway.

In conclusion: the desire to kill the father for the love of the mother is very present in Shinji’s case… sometimes it appears as a latent feeling, sometimes not. The sort of Oedipus Complex Shinji has for Rei is not entirely real or wrong, considering he doesn’t feel sexual attraction for the blue-haired pilot. Yet, he is seen associating Rei to his mother and that’s what brings him to enter the “competition” for her attention.

THE MYTH

You remember the tale of Troy, no? Well, princess Electra was the daughter of queen Clytemnestra and king Agamemnon, the one who actually fought the Trojan War. Their palace was located in the city of Mycenae, where Electra and her brother Orestes grew up along with their mother - waiting for Agamemnon to return from war.

As we know, the Greek forces won over Troy and that meant the king of Mycenae could have finally returned to his kingdom, after ten years of absence. But meanwhile Clytemnestra, the queen, had fallen in love with her own cousin Aegisthus, after having being seduced by the man - and forgetting the love she felt for her rightful husband.
So when the king returned home safe and sound, the queen and Aegisthus began plotting his death; some versions of the myth also say that Clytemnestra still couldn’t forgive her husband for another crime: Agamemnon had sacrificed their eldest daughter Iphigenia to the gods to assure himself a good war and fortune. First the queen and her lover killed Cassandra, the war prize the king had bought with him (a fortune-teller that had already given birth to two bastard twins), and then managed to assassinate the King with poison.

The city fell into panic and despair and Orestes and Electra, both barely teenagers, were sent to Athens to live in the house of a distant relative of theirs. The siblings never parted and stayed there for a couple of years. After some time, the sister convinced the brother to return to Mycenae to visit the tomb of their father.
The two secretly entered the city and arrived to the resting place of Agamemnon. It’s being said the poor girl’s desperate cry were so loud and painful to hear ( an ancient greek tradition says that, at a funeral, the girls would have cried, screamed, pulled off their hair and scratched their cheeks - moistened by tears ) that even Orested was brought into tears. Desperate for the death of the loved and awaited father, Electra convinced Orestes to plot against their own mother, and their stepfather.

Clytemnestra - who had no problems admitting of having killed her husband and that was now ruling the kingdom with his lover - recognised the two siblings who came to avenge their father’s death. Electra killed their mother, Orestes their stepfather. Before dying though, the queen cursed both of her sons; Orestes, in particular, would have been forever tormented by Furies, whose duty it is to punish any violation of the ties of family piety while Electra lived ther rest of her life in misery with a shepherd.

THE ELECTRA COMPLEX

As explained for the male counterpart of the Complex, a child who grows up in a family with both a mother and a father, should feel greater attachment to the parent of the opposite sex. Freud and Jung explained that even little girls behave like Electra, by loving the father way more than the mother. The resoultion of the complex happens when the child identifies him/herself with the parent of the same gender.

Just like the Oedipus one, the Electra complex occurs in the third—phallic stage (ages 3–6) of the psychosexual development stages. Of course Freud explains how castration anxiety is absent in the girl, that actually feels what is called the “penis envy” once she starts understanding the differences between the male and female bodies.
He says that to form a discrete sexual identity (Ego) a girl’s decisive psychosexual experience is in fact the daughter–mother competition for possession of the father; when a little girl’s initial attachment to her mother ensd with the discovering that she has a body similar to hers; she then transfers her “libidinal desires” and attachment to her father, increasing what it’s supposed to be the so-called “sexual competition” with her mother.  

THE CASE OF MISATO KATSURAGI

Misato doesn’t like talking about her father too much and the audience is led to think, by her first sentences, that the girl actually hates him. This is not entirely correct: as we enter Misato’s deepest and most private thoughts in the last two episode of the series or in the End of Evangelion, we can understand how much she - especially as a little girl - seemed to both love and hate his father.

Misato blames him of loving too much his work, of having abandoned her mother (”who always cries”) and of having never understood his own daughter. Still, she can’t forget how that man, so obsessed with his work, that 13th September 2000, chose to sacrifice himself to protect and save from certain death Misato. The sign, the silver cross he gives her before being erased from the world, a testimony… a proof of strenght and paternal love in this case - that Misato is always seen wearing and often clutching againt her chest in some dramatic moments…
The loss of her paternal figure soon leads the girl to years of mutism and catatonic state, from which she seems to recover before completing her studies and entering university. Did Misato avenged her father? Ritsuko knew well that Misato’s enthusiasm in fighting Angels can be considered her “revenge”, even though Misato firmly denies such motives.

Misato fell in love only with only one man: Ryouji Kagi, a boy she met in her univeristy years. This relationship lasted some years, the two really were in love. Until…

MISATO: I am sorry that I insisted to separate at that time. I told you that I had another one to love, yet it was a lie. Did you find that?
RYOUJI: No.
MISATO:  I found that you had something that resembled to my father. I was looking for the appearence of my father. When I found that, I feared. I feared everything. I feared to be with you. I feared to be a woman. I feared everything. Although I’d hated my father, I happened to love a man looking like my father. To forget everything, I joined NERV, which, however, was an institute at that my father had been. I have been illuding myself to revenge him fighting the Angels. I tried to escape… to escape my father’s curse! I’m a coward!

We never get to see Dr. Katsuragi’s face. In some scenes and flashbacks he appears as a tall man with long dark hair tied in a little ponytail - exactly how the adult Kaji is seen thoughout the series by Shinji and the others. If Misato’s words are true, then the spy really resembled her deceased father and that was - for her - one of the reasons why she actually fell in love with him years before the story takes place, during their college years. Also, the shame of recognizing of being attracted to a man who resembled her father that much is what brought Misato to end her relationship with the boy.

But what about her “revenge”? What role Kaji has in her plan against the Angels?
Can Kaji’s character be associated with Agamemnon, the father figure?
For Misato, probably not. 
In a play about Electra and her tragic story, a scene very similar to the one we see at the end of episode 21 takes place: the princess Electra receives a message informing her of her beloved brother Orestes’ death. The girl starts crying and sobbing without control in front of a handmaiden and a young servant before the ashes of Orestes are given to her; at that confirmation, Electra faints, falling on the ground. We can assume Orestes resembled Agamemnon (being his only male son) and that Electra really loved him as a sister: not only he helped Electra having her revenge against the queen, but he was now the only family she had… her only brother. 
Kaji must have had a similar role, for Misato. Her mother was totally absent in her life and only with Kaji she probably felt like being with her father/family again. Can Ryouji’s character be associated with Orestes in the Greek tragic myth? Probably. As Orestes did for her sister, the spy also helped Misato a lot by leaving her all of his data e informations about the Impacts, Lilith, the arrival of solidiers inside Nerv, the last Angel and Seele’s plans. Plus… in the play, after Electra finally had become conscious of Orestes’ fate, she promises to return home to claim the throne as rightful queen, the same decision we can feel and see in Misato’s eyes. He let her and helped her “get closer to the truth”.

MISATO:  I ain’t irritated anymore by the telephone that does not ring, since I now understand what you wanted me to know.

In conclusion: the anger and shame for having loved for years a man who looked a lot like her father is still present inside Misato’s memories and thoughts, as the last two episodes also confirm, till the very end of the original series. Is this a real, clear, example of the Electra Complex? Not quite, since Misato doesn’t take her place in the mother-daughter competition – supposedly because the sacrifice of her father happened when she was already a teenager, not a child. It can be related to the Complex for other reasons… of course, we can’t know that for sure, but it is unlikely that the mere good appearance of Kaji was the only reason she loved him and became his girlfriend. 

A human’s mind is way more complicated to understand than that – than all of this, no matter what.
   
   

“I KNOW THAT I KNOW NOTHING”  -  Socrates

Oedipism

Auto-enucleation (oedipism) and other forms of serious self-inflicted eye injury are an extremely rare form of severe self-harm that usually results from mental illnesses involving acute psychosis. The name comes from Oedipus of Greek mythology, who gouged out his own eyes.

Oedipus gauged out his own eyes finally at the realization of his deeds, a last ditch effort at denial, at not having to see the reality around him. As he did so, he uttered the words.

Oedipus: I am agony.

Words that resonate with Kaneki well. 

I’ve pointed out before Kaneki’s character has built in allusions to the Oedipus Myth, but this is as close to a direct reference as you can possibly get. 

Kaneki’s reason for doing so even seems to match Oedipus. A horrible reality he can no longer face, at the end point of his tragedy now that the truth has been revealed and he failed to protect his friends he can only look away for it has become too much for him.

Messenger 2:

When Oedipus saw her,
     with a dreadful groan he took her body
     from the noose in which she hung, and then,                                               1510
     when the poor woman was lying on the ground—
     what happened next was a horrific sight—
     from her clothes he ripped the golden brooches
     she wore as ornaments, raised them high,
     and drove them deep into his eyeballs,                                                                         [1270]
     crying as he did so: “You will no longer see
     all those atrocious things I suffered,
     the dreadful things I did! No. You have seen
     what you never should have looked upon,
     and what I wished to know you did not see.                                                  1520
     So now and for all future time be dark!”

The question is why make such an obvious Oedipus reference at this point in time, now that Kaneki’s memories have already been recovered and the truth revealed. It has something to do with the other character who occupied that flashback.

In the myth of Oedipus, Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. What makes this particular plot thread compelling is that he didn’t want to do either did, but still committed both unknowingly. He was led on by fate rather than his own desires, but still had to suffer the consequences in the end. And here too, Kaneki is compulsed in his actions not by his own desires, but by fate.

Kaneki’s reason for his flash back then,is probably deceptively mentioned with another character from a few chapters ago. 

Kaneki is remembering his one good memory of Arima, and it’s a way of expressing his reluctance for what he is about to commit himself to doing. 

Before Oedipus became King, he had to kill his father Laius the current king. At this moment Kaneki is committing himself to fulfill the Oedipal prophecy that surrounds his character by killing the only significant father figure he’s had in his life. He does so with regret though, because it’s not as if he wants to. Rather, he’s compelled, by fate, by the culmination of all of his decisions up until this point, call it what you will. 

Tokyo Ghoul vs Literature: Dear Kafka’s Inspiration

The novel ‘Kafka on the Shore’ is another of Haruki Murakami’s works that share a connection to Tokyo Ghoul. The premiere work of novelist Takatsuki Sen, thought to be a homage to Murakami, is a short story named ‘Dear Kafka’. One possible reasoning for this titling in both works is that german author Franz Kafka was thought to have a strained relationship with his father, inspiring in some part the misery in his works. Author Takatsuki Sen definitely has deep running issues with her father, and the protagonist of Kafka on the Shore, a boy who calls himself Kafka Tamura as a pseudonym hates his father enough to run away due to previous abuse. 

Keep reading

My crazy, half-baked theory for Zankyou no Terror:

Lisa is Shibasaki’s daughter.

We know Lisa’s father left the family when she was young. We know Shibasaki had a family before his demotion fifteen years ago (which would have been when Lisa was a baby, presumably), but they were referred to in the past tense, and we’ve seen no evidence of his having a home life to speak of these days. We know Lisa and Shibasaki look somewhat alike. None of this is conclusive by any stretch, but it is interesting, particularly in a show that’s been so sparing and careful to make every backstory info-drop count.

We also know that the anime is making a very, very big deal out of the Oedipus myth, with Shibasaki as the most obvious stand-in for Oedipus. (He’s the one answering Sphinx’s riddles, after all.) One facet of the Oedipus legend that people often forget is that Antigone was his daughter: the woman who became famous in her own right for rebellion against the king’s decree. Specifically, Antigone violated an order forbidding anyone to assist her brother Polyneices, who had led an uprising against her home city-state of Thebes, by giving him proper burial rites. Oedipus’s daughter was executed for being a sympathizer or accomplice to a rebel–a role which Lisa (albeit unwillingly, at the moment), is presently playing.

So, yeah. I could be wildly off the mark here, but I really think Lisa will turn out to be Shibasaki’s daughter. The information we have so far seems to hint at the possibility, and it just makes too much thematic sense to be a red herring, IMO.

Thoughts?