knowledge, oedipus’ worse enem

January 9, 2017 General Studies

Ironically Oedipus brings about his own demise. Trying to help his country and rid his people of the plague they are suffering from, he makes the vow that he will, “Drive the corruption from the land” (Line 109). Being a standard Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles during the 5th Century B.C. includes the prosperous beginning and the ending in adversity. Unknowingly, Oedipus himself is the culprit that is bringing the misfortune upon his people and city as he is the one that killed King Laius, his father, and married his mother Jocasta. His quest for knowledge of the truth plays an important role in this play as his findings cause his downfall.

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When we first meet Oedipus, he is a respected king and ruler leading a prosperous life. Ruling over Thebes, a city attacked by a dreadful plague, Oedipus is approached by his citizens to curb the disease. Finding out that the only way to rid Thebes of the disease is to rid Thebes of the man who killed King Laius, the previous ruler, Oedipus promises to do this as the matter was never resolved. He is also afraid that the culprit (unknowingly being himself) might attack him next. As a result, he finds not only the culprit, but also the truth about his own life.

Following the council of the Chorus, Odysseus begins his quest by asking Tiresias, the blind prophet, if he knows anything of this matter. Knowing that Oedipus was the killer, Tiresias refuses to answer thereby angering Oedipus who in turn angers Tiresias. Goaded again and again, Tiresias finally becomes fed up and tells Oedipus that it is himself who is the culprit, “You are the cursed polluter of this land, the killer you are seeking is yourself. You are living in sinful union with the one you love, living in ignorance of your own undoing.” (35-36) Unable to believe him, Oedipus orders him to leave, but as he leaves, Tiresias leaves Oedipus with a lingering question of who his real parents are.


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