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Phenomenologies of the StrangerBetween Hostility and Hospitality$
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Richard Kearney and Kascha Semonovitch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234615

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234615.001.0001

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The Stranger in the Polis

The Stranger in the Polis

Hospitality in Greek Myth

(p.274) 16 The Stranger in the Polis
Phenomenologies of the Stranger



Fordham University Press

Oedipus Rex is about the question of the stranger's name and the nomos (law) of hospitality. Sophocles makes the plague the incentive moment of his play. Oedipus's fatal encounter with his father at the crossroads outside Thebes signifies that every murder is potentially a patricide for every Other is always the parental Other. Thanks to the double crime, Oedipus's identity is now both externalized and realized and thus the possibility has opened up for him to recognize himself. By the gates of Athens, Oedipus is, once more, a stranger. The gods have led him here to die, a stranger among strangers, by granting him death's absolute hospitality: a death without a tomb, marked by no tombstone, engraved by no name: a nameless death. Without the nomos of funeral customs and without name, Oedipus becomes in Athens the perfect stranger inscribed within the realm of the polis, interred without any markings, not even that of a corpse or a relic. A stranger perfectly strange.

Keywords:   Oedipus Rex, Athens, stranger, polis, hospitality, Oedipus, plague, murder, patricide, Other

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