"THE GODS ARE NOT TO BLAME" - OLA ROTIMI'S VERSION OF THE OEDIPUS MYTH

P.J. Conradie

Abstract


One of the interesting aspects of modern African drama is the fact that traces of the
influence of Greek tragedy can clearly be discerned. This is especially noticeable in
Nigerian drama where dramatists like Wole Soyinka, Efua Sutherland and Ola Rotimi have
adapted Greek plays. There seems to be a special affinity between ancient Greek culture
and the Yoruba culture of Western Nigeria. In discussing Soyinka's version of Euripides'
Bacchae Andr~ Lefevere (1986:1210) makes the following interesting remarks: "After all;
not so long ago the Yoruba formed a conglomeration of small, pre-industrial, mutually
competing city states, as did ancient Attica ... Much of classical Greek drama derived from
pre-existing oral traditions dealing with religious mythology and mythified history, and so
does much of the literary and theatrical output of the Yoruba, whether in English or their
own language. The extraordinary vitality of Yoruba beliefs and myths is further evidenced
by the fact that they have spread through large segments of the black Diaspora, especially
in Brazil and the West Indies, somewhat in the same way as Greek myths and legends have
provided literary inspiration throughout the Western world to this very day. Soyinka's
version of the Bacchae, therefore, should not be viewed in isolation; it is just one
indication of some not yet unravelled deep kinship between ancient Greece and modern
Africa - an indication to which scholars might profitably give more attention•.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/39-1-528

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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