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DeLia, D. (1987). The Road to Daulis: Psychoanalysis, Psychology, and Classical Mythology. Robert Eisner. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1987.. Mod. Psychoanal., 12(1):121-123.

(1987). Modern Psychoanalysis, 12(1):121-123

The Road to Daulis: Psychoanalysis, Psychology, and Classical Mythology. Robert Eisner. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1987.

Review by:
Demetria DeLia

Three roads diverged at the crossroads where Oedipus unknowingly, i.e. unconsciously, murdered his father Laius. For Oedipus, the road to Daulis was the road not taken, a choice which might have prevented the fulfillment of his destiny. Oedipus chose the way to Thebes, solved the riddle of the Sphinx, married his mother, and then journeyed into himself. Had he taken the road to Daulis and resigned himself to his destiny as foretold by the Delphic Oracle, Sophocles and Freud would have needed to look elsewhere for their hero.

Robert Eisner is a classical scholar whose comments on primary and secondary sources of ancient Greek texts are impressive and insightful in scope. His knowledge of the theory and process of psychoanalysis, however, is limited. Freud is accused of extracting elements of the myth to fit his theory. Eisner denies Oedipus' pathology: “Oedipus is not a neurotic, but a king… If Oedipus had an Oedipus complex he would have killed Polybus and married Merope, the only parents he ever knew” (pp. 10-11).

Myths can be understood as the collective dreams of primitive men who attempted to grasp the meaning of physical, social, and psychic realities. Like dreams, myths are not created logically or consciously. They are symbols whose interpretations have changed from one generation to another, even within mythical societies. Homer used the Oedipus myth for didactic purposes; Sophocles employed it to rationalize his religious and societal values.

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