The Tragedy of Hoemdiplet: Freud’s Fusion of Oedipus and Hamlet




Sigmund Freud, Oedipus Complex, Sophocles, Hamlet, Shakespeare, Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus the King, Jean Mounet-Sully, Adolf Wilbrandt, The Interpretation of Dreams


Very early on, Freud centered his argument for the universality of the Oedipus complex on a reading of Oedipus Tyrannus. But why did he insist on reading it specifically as a theatrical experience on the part of a modern audience? This article argues that Freud’s theory from the start had fused the Sophoclean play with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, deploying Oedipus Tyrannus metatheatrically as Hamlet deployed “The Murder of Gonzago” to trigger a reaction in Claudius. Freud puts us in the audience of Oedipusin order for us to sense our own oedipal guilt, confirming his theory.

Biografia do Autor

Richard H. Armstrong, University of Houston

Richard H. Armstrong is Associate Professor of Classical Studies in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and The Honors College. He is also Coordinator of International Programs for the Honors College, including both study abroad opportunities and competitive scholarships (Fulbright, Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Awards). He publishes on the reception of ancient culture in later times, Translation Studies, and the history of Psychoanalysis. He is author of A Compulsion for Antiquity: Freud and the Ancient World (Cornell UP, 2006), and forthcoming books on Freud as well as the translation of classical epic.  He is also a frequent contributor to KUHF’s Engines of Our Ingenuity program. Besides the Human Situation, Prof. Armstrong teaches courses like CLAS 3341 The Roman Republic and Political Thought, CLAS 3350 Law and Society in Ancient Rome—available for Phronesis credit—CLAS 3375 Roman, Jew, and Christian and CLAS 4353 Antiquity & Modernity.  (BA, University of Chicago; M. Phil., Ph.D., Yale University)


Freud, Sigmund. [1900] 1953. The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. and edited by James Strachey et al. London: The Hogarth Press. Vols. 4 and 5. (Cited by convention as SE vol:page.)

Freud, Sigmund. [1900] 1991. Die Traumdeutung. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag.

Masson, J. M., ed and trans. 1985. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.

Masson, J. M., ed. Briefe an Wihelm Fliess 1887-1904. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer.




Como Citar

Armstrong, R. H. (2018). The Tragedy of Hoemdiplet: Freud’s Fusion of Oedipus and Hamlet. CODEX - Revista De Estudos Clássicos, 6(2), 71–81.