Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Mon Aug 7 07:28:17 EDT 2000

At 2:27 PM -0400 8/6/00, Steve Puluka wrote:
>[b-greek] Re: to be hAMARTIAN----- Original Message -----
>From: Carl W. Conrad
>But even in classical Attic Greek, where the senses of hAMARTIA and
>hAMARTANW sometimes involve simple deviation or error, the notion of sin as
>a 'polluted' condition requiring 'cleansing,' KAQARSIS, is well-rooted--one
>may find it, for instance, in the Oedipus plays of Sophocles and elsewhere
>in classical literature.
>My curiosity has been piqued by this comment.  Do you recall what act in the
>Oedipus plays this occurs and perhaps what other Greek literature contain
>this sense?

In the Oedipus Rex (alias Oedipus Tyrannos) the 'pollution' is twofold, the
patricide (Oedipus has killed his father Laius) and the incest (Oedipus has
married and bedded Jocasta his mother), and although he has committed both
acts unwittingly, he is ultimately shown to be the source of the plague
sent by Apollo on Thebes because of his continued presence in Thebes. In
the Antigone, a plague is sent upon Thebes because Creon has entombed
Oedipus' daughter Antigone alive beneath the earth. In the last of the
three plays, Oedipus at Colonus, one focal question is whether the presence
of Oedipus, alive or dead, can possibly pollute and bring a curse upon the
city where he dwells or is buried. Elsewhere: the Iliad opens with the
question of how Achilles' wrath arose; the question is answered by a
flashback to the plague sent upon the Achaeans by Apollo because of the
behavior of Agamemnon. The notion of miasma, or guilt as a stain upon a
person that constitutes intolerable impurity, is not unique to Greek


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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