Abstract

Abstract:

This essay demonstrates how two middle English Oedipus narratives—the South English Legendary’s “Life of Judas” and the opening section of John Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes—invoke the “ages of man” topos differently in order to dramatize why an individual deviates from normative development. The “Life of Judas” alludes to the topos to speculate about character psychology and pathological development and thus crafts a medieval “popular” psychology. In the Siege of Thebes, the “ages of man” system exemplifies an idealized counterpoint to Edippus’s pathological development and explains why his existence is at odds with the Theban polis. The essay ends by considering evidence that Sigmund Freud may have known these medieval Oedipus narratives and situates these stories as distant preludes to the Freudian Oedipus complex.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0383
Print ISSN
0039-3738
Pages
pp. 1-34
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-11
Open Access
No
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