Oedipus, Odysseus and the Return of Memory

Vered Lev Kenaan


The analogy between Oedipus and Odysseus is striking and provides an intriguing case of intertextuality once their relationship is investigated through the fascinating links that the plot of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rexmaintains with the episode of the foot washing of the Odyssey, Book 19. I argue, that the Homeric Odysseus provided Sophocles with an inspiring model for imitation: A middle-aged man carries on his body a childhood scar of which he has been oblivious for many years. After many years of absence, a homecoming brings with it a return of memory: the traumatic scarification begins to surface. Oedipus’ and Odysseus’ scars bring home something that has collapsed into forgetfulness. Returning to Auerbach’s “Odysseus Scar” the article discusses the scar as a junction of forgetting and remembering and show how Odysseus’ memory and Oedipus’ forgetfulness are intertwined. 


Odysseus’ scar; Erich Auerbach; Mimesis; Analogy; Comparative literature; Akedah; Childhood memory; Forgetfulness; Oedipus Rex; Repression; Jewish identity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25187/codex.v7i1.22186


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