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Hubris, Physis and Eironeia in Ola Rotimi’s <i>Ovonramwen Nogbaisi</i>

V S Alumona


In the play, Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, the Oba contends with internal intrigues, disloyal vassal states, and wily British colonizers who want to extend their control and trade inland. In the bid to grapple with the internal challenge to his rule he sentences some chiefs to death for the murder of a royal advisor. By the time he engages the British, the Oba already has a divided polity and house of chiefs he addresses regularly, and in doing so he uses words and phrase that invoke the nature of things, physis, in order to emphasize his points. The paper argues that the death sentence is hubris, more of which he continues to commit in other instances, while the words that mimic the nature of things in the mouth of the Oba, especially, and the other characters, become ironic (eironeia) in the end, and now apply to the Oba and his empire much as they were originally directed to or against others.