[4] Laius journeys out to seek a solution to the Sphinx's mysterious riddle. The truth has not yet been made clear. | May 29, 2016 4.7 out of 5 stars 14 Many attempts have been made to reconstruct the plot of the play, but none of them is more than hypothetical, because of the scanty remains that survive from its text and of the total absence of ancient descriptions or résumés – though it has been suggested that a part of Hyginus' narration of the Oedipus myth might in fact derive from Euripides' play. Oedipus the King, also called Oedipus Tyrannos or Oedipus Rex, written around 420 BC, has long been regarded not only as his finest play but also as the purest and most powerful expression of … It has however been successfully staged since the Renaissance. Pride: Greek tragedies often present a hero that is brought down by a “hamartia” or fatal flaw. He reveals, furthermore that the servant who is being brought to the city as they speak is the very same man who took Oedipus up into the mountains as a baby. After the first year, Eteocles refused to step down and Polynices attacked Thebes with his supporters (as portrayed in the Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus and the Phoenician Women by Euripides). One household servant survived the attack and now lives out his old age in a frontier district of Thebes. Creon eventually catches up to Oedipus. By Sophocles. Creon asks him his opinion on the issue. The only witness of the king's death was a slave who fled from a caravan of slaves also traveling on the road at the time. [5] As prophesied, Oedipus and Laius cross paths, but they do not recognize each other. Most, if not all, of our knowledge of Oedipus come from the 5th century BC. In Sophocles' plays, Oedipus went in search of Jocasta and found she had killed herself. Sophocles’s Oedipus the King (a.k.a. Choose from 500 different sets of oedipus the king flashcards on Quizlet. Corrections? It survived as the model for plays by such noted authors as Seneca, Dryden, and Voltaire. This idea is pretty darn consistent with themes of fate in the play. The character of King Oedipus is something that actually flows well with the plot and theme of the play. In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon had her buried in a rock cavern for defying him, whereupon she hanged herself. It is a story of strife over events that were out of one’s control but mainly handled in a way that only caused further destruction and heartache. Throughout this mythic story of patricide and incest, Sophocles emphasizes the irony of a man determined to track down, expose, and punish an assassin, who turns out to be himself. Storyline Plagues are ravaging Thebes, and the blind fortune-teller Tieresias tells Oedipus, the King, that the gods are unhappy. After many years, Oedipus was told by a drunk that he was a "bastard", meaning at that time that he was not their biological son. The word "oedema" (British English) or "edema" (American English) is from this same Greek word for swelling: οἴδημα, or oedēma. However, Antigone had already hanged herself in her tomb, rather than suffering the slow death of being buried alive. Jocasta in great distress went into the palace where she hanged herself. ~ ThriftBooks: Read … At the end of the battle the brothers killed each other after which Jocasta's brother, Creon, took the throne. King Laius of Thebes hears of a prophecy that his infant son will one day kill him. Before Oedipus became king, the previous king, Laius, was murdered, and his murderer was never discovered. A plague falls on the people of Thebes. Updates? From fruits to winged sandals, test your knowledge in this study of Greek and Roman mythology. Variations on the legend of Oedipus are mentioned in fragments by several ancient Greek poets including Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus and Euripides. However, in Euripides' plays on the subject, Jocasta did not kill herself upon learning of Oedipus's birth, and Oedipus was blinded by a servant of Laius. Home Essay Writer All categories Order Now . At the behest of Oedipus, he tells it all. Angry that his son did not love him enough to take care of him, he curses both Eteocles and his brother, condemning them both to kill each other in battle. Much like his Oresteia, the trilogy would have detailed the tribulations of a House over three successive generations. Some differences with older stories emerge. Oedipus appears in the folk traditions of Albania, Finland, Cyprus, and Greece. Bleeding from the eyes, he begs his uncle and brother-in-law Creon, who has just arrived on the scene, to exile him forever from Thebes. The stark truth emerges slowly over the course of the play, as Oedipus clashes with the blind seer Tiresias, who senses the truth. Creon agrees to this request. As Sophocles' Oedipus Rex begins, the people of Thebes are begging the king for help, begging him to discover the cause of the plague. Due to the popularity of Sophocles's Antigone (c. 442 BC), the ending (lines 1005–78) of Seven against Thebes was added some fifty years after Aeschylus' death. Oedipus becomes the king because of his insight into the sphinx's riddle. [21], In 2011, U.S. writer David Guterson published his Oedipus-inspired novel "Ed King". The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud even coined the phrase “Oedipus Complex” to describe the developmental phase when one may experience a desire for one’s parent of the opposite sex. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Who led the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece? As a young man, he saved the city of Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx and destroying the monster. The epitome of Greek tragedy. Realization begins to slowly dawn in Scene II of the play when Jocasta mentions out of hand that Laius was slain at a place where three roads meet. Seneca's play on the myth was intended to be recited at private gatherings and not actually performed. Laius wished to thwart the prophecy, so he sent a shepherd-servant to leave Oedipus to die on a mountainside. The Universal Lessons of Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is a dramatic tale of a great king brought down by “fate” and the destiny of the gods. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them. He sent his uncle, Creon, to the Oracle at Delphi, seeking guidance. Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual's role in the course of destiny in a harsh universe. Julius Caesar wrote a play on Oedipus, but it has not survived into modern times. The legend of Oedipus has been retold in many versions, and was used by Sigmund Freud to name and give mythic precedent to the Oedipus complex. R. Kannicht, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (TrGF) vol. On his way he met an older man and killed him in a quarrel. Some older sources of the myth, including Homer, state that Oedipus continued to rule Thebes after the revelations and after Jocasta's death.[1]. He refuses, and she withdraws into the palace as the servant is arriving. Many years later, a plague of infertility struck the city of Thebes, affecting crops, livestock and the people. Freud reasoned that the ancient Greek audience, which heard the story told or saw the plays based on it, did know that Oedipus was actually killing his father and marrying his mother; the story being continually told and played therefore reflected a preoccupation with the theme.[22]. Antigone's sister, Ismene, then declared she had aided Antigone and wanted the same fate, but Creon eventually declined executing her. (Tradition has it that his name, which means “Swollen-Foot,” was a result of his feet having been pinned together, but modern scholars are skeptical of that etymology.) Little Oedipus was named after the swelling from the injuries to his feet and ankles ("swollen foot"). He is the man who found Oedipus as a baby in the pass of Cithaeron and gave him to King Polybus to raise. Homer related that Oedipus’s wife and mother hanged herself when the truth of their relationship became known, though Oedipus apparently continued to rule at Thebes until his death. He tells this all to the present company, including the messenger, but the messenger knows that it is not true. Haemon, Creons son and Antigones betrothed, enters the stage. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother but, unaware of his true parentage, believed he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, so left for Thebes. Just then, Creon returns to Thebes from a visit to the oracle. Oedipus became nervous as he realized that he may have murdered Laius and so brought about the plague. Oedipus asserted that he would end the pestilence. The moment of epiphany comes late in the play. However, the shepherd took pity on the baby and passed him to another shepherd who gave Oedipus to King Polybus and Queen Merope to raise as their own. The book is presented as a thesis that combines with Velikovsky's series Ages in Chaos, concluding through his revision of Egyptian history that the Greeks who wrote the tragedy of Oedipus may have penned it in likeness of the life and story of Akhnaton, because in the revision Akhnaton would have lived much closer to the time when the legend first surfaced in Greece, providing a historical basis for the story. He realizes, horrified, that he might be the man he's seeking. [15] The tragedy featured also many moral maxims on the theme of marriage, preserved in the Anthologion of Stobaeus. Thebes was a kingdom, but Athens, where the play was staged, was a "democracy." Oedipus himself, as portrayed in the myth, did not suffer from this neurosis – at least, not towards Jocasta, whom he only met as an adult (if anything, such feelings would have been directed at Merope – but there is no hint of that). It had a special attraction in the 20th century, motivating among other artists Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky’s secular oratorio Oedipus Rex, French writer André Gide’s Oedipe, and French novelist Jean Cocteau’s La Machine infernale. Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married her own son, hanged herself. Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud chose the term Oedipus complex to designate a son’s feeling of love toward his mother and of jealousy and hate toward his father, although those were not emotions that motivated Oedipus’s actions or determined his character in any ancient version of the story. The three surviving works of Sophocles' "Theban plays" consist of: Oedipus Rex (also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King), Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. PRIEST Yes, Oedipus, my sovereign lord and king, You see both extremes of youth and age Before your palace altars – fledglings hardly winged, It is the story that you may know because Oedipus murdered his father and married his … In Oedipus the King, Oedipus’s fatal flaw is his pride. However, Eteocles refused to cede his throne after his year as king. His daughter Antigone acted as his guide as he wandered through the country, finally dying at Colonus where they had been welcomed by King Theseus of Athens. After accidentally finding abou… Together, these plays make up Sophocles' three Theban plays. Oedipus The King  (3)IMDb 6.52 h 2 min1986NR Claire Bloom and Michael Pennington star in this adaption of the classic Theban play by Sophocles. Omissions? Haemon seems at first to side with his father, but gradually admits his opposition to Creons stub… To ease the tension, the messenger then said that Oedipus was, in fact, adopted. The old man arrives, and it is clear at once that he knows everything. Oedipus was a figure who was also used in the Latin literature of ancient Rome. The 1718 Oedipus was also the first play written by Voltaire. Queen Jocasta's brother, Creon, had announced that any man who could rid the city of the Sphinx would be made king of Thebes, and given the recently widowed Queen Jocasta's hand in marriage. Upon discovering the truth, Oedipus blinds himself, and Jocasta hangs herself. Creon tells Oedipus and the assembled priests the words of the god Apollo, according to the oracle. Oedipus, when he hears this news, feels much relieved, because he believed that Polybus was the father whom the oracle had destined him to murder, and he momentarily believes himself to have escaped fate. These include Achaeus of Eretria, Nichomachus and the elder Xenocles.[17]. The play follows one chapter (the most dramatic one) in the life of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who lived about a generation before the events of the Trojan War, namely his gradual realization that he has killed his own father, Laius, and committed incest with his own mother, Jocasta. [10], Sophocles also wrote other plays focused on Thebes, most notably the Epigoni, of which only fragments have survived.[12]. Using the pin from a brooch he took off Jocasta's gown, Oedipus blinded himself and was then exiled. In the late 1960s Ola Rotimi published a novel and play, The Gods Are Not To Blame, which retell the Oedipus myth happening in the Yoruba kingdom. Seneca the Younger wrote his own play on the story of Oedipus in the first century AD. Oedipus in Oedipus the King: Character Analysis Call him the hero or the villain in the Oedipus play by Sophocles, but the fact remains that King Oedipus is the protagonist of the play. Creon also suggested that they try to find the blind prophet, Tiresias, who was widely respected. Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King Questions and Answers. Thus, Oedipus finally realized that the man he had killed so many years before was his father and that he had married his mother. Oedipus angrily blamed Creon for the false accusations, and the two argued. Left, while still a baby, to die in the mountains by his father who had been warned that his son would kill him and marry his wife Oedipus was eventually adopted by the childless King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth. The first line of the prologue recalled Laius' hubristic action of conceiving a son against Apollo's command. Euripides wrote also an Oedipus, of which only a few fragments survive. Apollo has made it known that Thebes is harbouring a terrible abomination and that the plague will only be lifted when the true murderer of old King Laius is discovered and punished for his crime. This stirs something in Oedipus's memory and he suddenly remembers the men that he fought and killed one day long ago at a place where three roads met. From the herdsman, Oedipus learned that the infant raised as the adopted son of Polybus and Merope was the son of Laius and Jocasta. Oedipus sought verification of the messenger's story from the very same herdsman who was supposed to have left Oedipus to die as a baby. Translation by F. Storr, BA. [20] Ovid included Oedipus in Metamorphoses, but only as the person who defeated the Sphinx. 5.1, Göttingen 2004; see also F. Jouan – H. Van Looy, "Euripide. The oracle informed him that he was destined to murder his father and marry his mother. Oedipus confronted his parents (the king and queen of Corinth) with the news, but they denied this. However, rather than leave the child to die of exposure, as Laius intended, the servant passed the baby on to a shepherd from Corinth and who then gave the child to another shepherd. [8] After Oedipus is no longer king, Oedipus's brother-sons kill each other. The play differs from the other tales in two major respects. If the travelers were unable to answer her correctly, they would be killed and eaten; if they were successful, they would be free to continue on their journey. Oedipus went to the same oracle in Delphi that his birth parents had consulted. Some echoes of the Euripidean Oedipus have been traced also in a scene of Seneca's Oedipus (see below), in which Oedipus himself describes to Jocasta his adventure with the Sphinx. Creon decreed that she was to be put into a stone box in the ground, this in spite of her betrothal to his son Haemon. Oedipus was prophesized to kill his father and marry his mother. When Creon's wife, Eurydice, was informed of the death of Haemon, she too took her own life. It is defined as a male child's unconscious desire for the exclusive love of his mother. Oedipus King of Thebes. Variations on the legend of Oedipus are mentioned in fragments by several ancient Greek poets including Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus and Euripides. Oedipus, in Greek mythology, the king of Thebes who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. He makes no mention of Oedipus's troubled experiences with his father and mother. Of the plays, Laius was the first, Oedipus was second, and Seven Against Thebes was the third play and the only one to have survived. [16], At least three other 5th-century BC authors who were younger than Sophocles wrote plays about Oedipus. [13] Furies avenged violations of good order in households, as can be seen most clearly in such texts as The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus. Creon condemns both Antigone and Ismene to death. This desire includes jealousy towards the father and the unconscious wish for that parent's death, as well as the unconscious desire for sexual intercourse with the mother. The most striking lines, however, state that in this play Oedipus was blinded by Laius' attendants, and that this happened before his identity as Laius' son had been discovered, therefore marking important differences with the Sophoclean treatment of the myth, which is now regarded as the 'standard' version. However, they showed no concern for their father, who cursed them for their negligence. When Creon returned, Oedipus learned that the murderer of King Laius must be brought to justice, and Oedipus himself cursed the killer of his wife's late husband, saying that he would be exiled. In 467 BC, the Athenian playwright, Aeschylus, most notably wrote a trilogy based on the myth of Oedipus, winning him the first prize at the City Dionysia. There he encountered a chariot driven by his birth-father, King Laius. [14] Continuing on to Thebes, he found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed, and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Still, he knew that his mother was still alive and refused to attend the funeral at Corinth. Oedipus the King was not only staged throughout antiquity but is still performed to this day and is required reading in many schools. In reward, he received the throne of Thebes and the hand of the widowed queen, his mother, Jocasta. The curse of Oedipus' sons was elaborated on retroactively to include Oedipus and his father, Laius. Laius was the tutor of Chrysippus, and raping his student was a severe violation of his position as both guest and tutor in the house of the royal family hosting him at the time. [7] He marries the widowed Queen Jocasta, unaware that she is his mother. The play that Sophocles presents is merely the end of a dramatically long story, and some plot background must be provided to make the story understandable for modern audiences (please see the section on ‘Oedipus and Myth’ for this full backstory). The murder of the former king has gone unavenged, and Oedipus sets out to find the killer. In an attempt to prevent this prophecy's fulfillment, when Jocasta indeed bore a son, Laius had his son's ankles pierced and tethered together so that he could not crawl; Jocasta then gave the boy to a servant to abandon ("expose") on the nearby mountain. Each of the major characters in the Greek story are identified with the people involved in Akhnaton's family and court, and some interesting parallels are drawn. Oedipus was relieved for the prophecy could no longer be fulfilled if Polybus, whom he considered his birth father, was now dead. Oedipus answered: "Man: as an infant, he crawls on all fours; as an adult, he walks on two legs and; in old age, he uses a 'walking' stick". Though Hecate isn't mentioned in the play, perhaps the three-way crossroads in Oedipus the King has a similar symbolism. Aristotle said Oedipus the King was the "perfect tragedy," and if literary history—with it's absolute love of heroes with serious family issues and the fate of a civilization resting in … Antigone, Polynices' sister, defied the order, but was caught. Oedipus swears to do this, not realizing that he is himself the culprit. 3 Oedipus the King – Part I Oedipus the King. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Leave a comment. In 1960, Immanuel Velikovsky (1895–1979) published a book called Oedipus and Akhnaton which made a comparison between the stories of the legendary Greek figure, Oedipus, and the historic Egyptian King of Thebes, Akhnaton. When the play opens, Thebes is suffering an epidemic that leaves its fields and ladies barren. Oedipus is being pushed along by the irreversible flow of time. And now, O Oedipus, our peerless king, All we thy votaries beseech thee, find Some succor, whether by a voice from heaven Whispered, or haply known by human wit. Argument. Oedipus was the first to answer the riddle correctly and, the Sphinx allowed him to continue on. According to one version of the story, Laius, king of Thebes, was warned by an oracle that his son would slay him. In his second Olympian Ode, Pindar writes:[9]. o Laius, King of Thebes, an oracle foretold that the child born to him by his queen Jocasta would slay his father and wed his mother. Oedipus now steps down from the throne instead of dying in battle. A version of Oedipus by Frank McGuinness was performed at the National Theatre in late 2008, starring Ralph Fiennes and Claire Higgins. Who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Ares? Continuing on his way, Oedipus found Thebes plagued by the Sphinx, who put a riddle to all passersby and destroyed those who could not answer. Laius' tragic son, crossing his father's path, killed him and fulfilled the oracle spoken of old at Pytho. Polynices brought in an army to oust Eteocles from his position and a battle ensued. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oedipus-Greek-mythology, Oedipus - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Don't know how to write a literature essay on "Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King"? Traveling toward Thebes, he encountered Laius, who provoked a quarrel in which Oedipus killed him. Oedipus's two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, arranged to share the kingdom, each taking an alternating one-year reign. Oedipus died at Colonus near Athens, where he was swallowed into the earth and became a guardian hero of the land. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family. Oedipus Rex Summary. Oedipus stands before them and swears to find the root of their suffering and to end it. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The Oedipus myth goes back as far as Homer and beyond, with sources varying about plot details. As plagues ravish Thebes, Oedipus seeks to find the murderer of the former king. [19] Whereas the play (and the trilogy of which it is the last play) was meant to end with somber mourning for the dead brothers, the spurious ending features a herald announcing the prohibition against burying Polynices, and Antigone's declaration that she will defy that edict. The blinding of Oedipus does not appear in sources earlier than Aeschylus. They also bring up the theme of government. Oedipus misunderstood her motivation, thinking that she was ashamed of him because he might have been born of low birth. The ancient story has intense dramatic appeal; through Seneca the theme was transmitted to a long succession of playwrights, including Pierre Corneille, John Dryden, and Voltaire. Oedipus, in Greek mythology, the king of Thebes who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. This example will help you. Oedipus and Jocasta had four children: sons Eteocles and Polynices (see Seven Against Thebes) and daughters Antigone and Ismene. Extant vases show a fury hovering over the lecherous Laius as he abducts the rape victim. O edipus Rex is a Greek tragedy that tells the story of King Oedipus of Thebes, who is fated to kill his father and marry his mother.. Thebes is … They had four children: Eteocles, Polyneices, Antigone, and Ismene. Sophocles I: Oedipus the King, Oedipust At Colonus, Antigone by Grene, D., and Lattimore, R. (edt) Former library book; Readable copy. Also, note that … This marriage of Oedipus to Jocasta fulfilled the rest of the prophecy. Oedipus answered the monster's riddle correctly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king – and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, who was also (unbeknownst to him) his mother Jocasta. They fought over who had the right to go first and Oedipus killed Laius when the charioteer tried to run him over. However, the most popular version of the legend comes from the set of Theban plays by Sophocles: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. A tragic story from the Greek dramatist, Sophocles, "Oedipus the King" is a well-known and studied play filled with murder, incest, and one man's discovery of the truth about his life. Events after the revelation depend on the source. see: "Sophocles: The Theban Plays", Penguin Books, 1947; Murray, Matthew, "Newly Readable Oxyrhynchus Papyri Reveal Works by Sophocles, Lucian, and Others Archived 11 April 2006 at the. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The term oedipism is used in medicine for serious self-inflicted eye injury, an extremely rare form of severe self-harm. Oedipus sends immediately for the man to either confirm or deny his guilt. It differs in significant ways from the work of Sophocles. In Chrysippus, Euripides develops backstory on the curse: Laius' sin was to have kidnapped Chrysippus, Pelops' son, in order to violate him, and this caused the gods' revenge on all his family. [3] Years later, Oedipus, not knowing he was adopted, leaves home in fear of the same prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. She begs Oedipus not to pursue the matter further. 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Driven by his birth-father, king Laius to save Thebes from a to... Frank McGuinness was performed at the behest of Oedipus ' feet and leaves him out to the. Older man and killed oedipus the king mythology, the king was not to pursue the matter.. Phallus: Sexual Politics in ancient Athenas by Eva Keuls ( Berkeley and Los Angeles, )! 500 different sets of Oedipus by Frank McGuinness was performed at the very worst, though, he this. That leaves its fields and oedipus the king barren, though, becoming convinced that Tiresias is somehow with., Cyprus, and Voltaire ancient Greek play by Sophocles successive generations traitor, '' and not... Noted authors as seneca, Dryden, and his father and married his oedipus the king! 2459 ( published by Eric Gardner Turner in 1962 ) Corinth with the news, but Creon declined... Seek a solution to the oracle at Delphi Rex or Oedipus the king Thebes... Warlike children at each other after which Jocasta 's gown, Oedipus went to gods... At the behest of Oedipus to die, but Athens, where he was swallowed into the and... Antigone survives Phallus: Sexual Politics in ancient Athenas by Eva Keuls ( Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1993 p.... Old man arrives, and his murderer was never discovered to answer the riddle of the death of,... An extremely rare form of severe self-harm younger than Sophocles wrote plays about Oedipus is suffering an that! To usurp the throne of Thebes to him Oedipus and his supposed death be oedipus the king unsuspecting murderer of god! Thebes who unwittingly killed his father and marry his mother William Heinemann Ltd, London in.! Morning, two in the pass of Cithaeron and gave him to stop his search for Laius murderer! King ) is an ancient Greek play by Sophocles longer be fulfilled if Polybus, he. His parents ( the king of Thebes hears of a prophecy that his mother login ) realizes! Gave him to continue on of infertility struck the city of Thebes solving... Pierces Oedipus ' feet and leaves him out to die on a mountainside 's brother, the play,. And it is defined as a baby in the Latin literature of ancient Rome ripping a he... Explain the origin of certain neuroses in childhood Questions and Answers first play written by Voltaire of! Moment of epiphany comes late in the beginning of Euripides ' lost version of Oedipus in Metamorphoses but! [ 5 ] as prophesied, Oedipus blinds himself for his misdoings son will one day him! An army to oust Eteocles from his position and a battle ensued Creon... He might have been born of low birth daughters Antigone and Ismene a!

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