Family Drama: From Oedipus to Ozu

Krishnan Venkatesh + Aparna Ravilochan

Family is an inexhaustible source of conflict for dramatists, novelists, and filmmakers—perhaps more inexhaustible than war. From Greek dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles to Confucius, Vyasa, and Ozu, family is a problem, a question, and a source of both self-destruction and self-actualization. In this episode, Santa Fe host Krishnan Venkatesh is joined by Santa Fe tutor Aparna Ravilochan for a journey deep into the heart of Thebes—where King Laius has died at the hands of his own son Oedipus, and Oedipus has unwittingly married his mother Jocasta—and a subtler journey into the world of famed Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu, where a happily domiciled father and daughter, Somiya and Noriko, will be ripped apart by the norms and expectations of tradition. This episode searches for insights into the nature of family, the tension between the safety and anxiety that family creates, and the rich and multiple ways that different artists, works, cultures, and mediums express these insights.

In this Episode

  • Aparna Ravilochan
    Guest Aparna Ravilochan

    Aparna Ravilochan (SF12) is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, she is reading Aquinas in sophomore seminar, teaching Ptolemy in freshman mathematics, and studying logic in sophomore language.

  • Krishnan Venkatesh
    Host Krishnan Venkatesh

    Krishnan Venkatesh is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is reading Austen in junior seminar, translating Molière in junior language, and leading a Chinese tutorial in the Graduate Institute.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

Browse All Episodes

Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


Subscribe for Updates

St. John’s College invites the community to awaken their intellect by engaging in mindful exploration. The college offers an array of online and in-person events, ranging from world-class concerts and art exhibitions to lectures and theater performances, as well as tutor-led seminars that provide lifelong learners opportunities to study the Great Books.

Sign up to learn about upcoming events.