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Oedipus Rex, Plot, Symbols, Style, Philosophy, Quotations

Posted on 30 June 2011 by Aajiz Plot

The city of thebes is suffering and Oedipus the king wants to know why. Creon is sent to ask the oracle and Teiresius, a prophet is sent for. The oracle says that the murderer of Laios must be found and punished so Oedipus proclaimed that he would do everything he could to find the murderer. Teiresius says that the murderer is Oedipus, but Oedipus does not believe him. Oedipus charges Creon of sending the prophet to overthrow him. Oedipus tells Iocaste of his leaving Corinth. He tells her that it was prophesied that he would kill his father and marry his mother, but so that it would never happen, he ran from Corinth. On the trip, he met some people on the highway, got in an argument, and killed them. He also solved the riddle of the sphinx, and became the king of Thebes. A messenger came from Corinth to tell Oedipus of Polybos death and that he would now become the king of Corinth. The messenger also tells Oedipus that he is not the son of Polybos, but that the messenger was given Oedipus by another man and that he gave Oedipus to Polybos. The person that gave Oedipus to the messenger was sent for. The shepherd arrives and tells Oedipus that he was a servant of Laios and that Laios gave him his child to kill because of the prophecy that his son would kill him. Since the shepherd felt sorry for the child, he did not kill him, but gave him to the other shepherd. After this, Oedipus finds out that the prophecy came true. Iocaste commits suicide, and Oedipus gouges out his eyes. Then he says bye to his children, and leaves the city. Symbols

The scar on Oedipus foot Oedipus got this scar when the servant from Laios tied him by his foot and left him to die. This is where Oedipus (which means swollen foot) got his name. Messenger: I cut the bonds that tied your ankles together. / Oedipus: I have had the mark as long as I can remember. / Messenger: That is why you were given the name you bear. Teiresias He symbolizes Oedipus blindness to the truth in the beginning of the play and shows Oedipus temper. His title of the blind seer exemplifies the theme of blindness and sight. Teiresias: A Blind man, / Who has his sight now. Style

The style is simple and like normal speech for the most part. The sentences are not complicated and they are easy to understand. Sophocles wrote the play in the typical five part tragedy fashion.

Philosophy

The story seems to say that a man cannot run from his fate. It was prophesied that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother, and although he tried to run from that, it happened anyway. The same is true for Laios who tried to get rid of his son to run from the prophecy that his son would murder him. Quotations

Oedipus: Wealth, power, craft of statesmanship! / Kingly position, everywhere admired! / what savage envy is stored up against these, Oedipus says this to Creon after the fortune from Teiresias. Teiresias: But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind: / You can not see the wretchedness of your life, / Nor in whose house you live, no, nor with whom. / Who are your father and mother? Can you tell me? Teiresias says this to Oedipus after Oedipus starts getting angry with him. Teiresias: A blind man, /Who has his eyes now; a penniless man, who is rich now; / And he will go tapping the strange earth with his staff; / to the children with whom he lives now he will be / Brother and father the very same; to her / Who bore him, son and husband the very same / Who came to his fathers bed, wet with his fathers blood. Teiresias tells this to Oedipus prophesying what Oedipus will find out. Oedipus: Let it come! / However base my birth, I must know about it. The Queen, like a woman, is perhaps ashamed / To think of my low origin. But I / Am a child of Luck; I can not be dishonored. Oedipus says this to Iocaste trying to encourage her to continue with the search of the truth when she was beginning to fear the truth.

Comments (1)

Oedipus Rex Proves You Cant Beat The Gods


Posted on 30 June 2011 by Aajiz

The tragedy of Oedipus is more complex than it appears at first reading. It has much to do with truth. How much truth can we stand? It is about sin coming home to roost. Oedipus road rage killing of the old king would have been a murder no matter who the perpetrator and victim were. Jocastas scoffing at the gods and recoiling from the truth once it begins to unwind is a mixture of blasphemy, hubris and denial. Two oracular messages, one received by Laius, the other by Oedipus, foretell the same outrageous event: a fratricide with the added complication and sacrilegious dimension of a regicide. Does it not seem strange that neither Laius or Oedipus tries to appease the gods on hearing the oracle? The myth makes no mention of either man asking the gods for mercy or to somehow change this fate. Both are full of enough hubris to believe that they can outsmart the gods and by less than honorable means. Laius resorts to infanticide. The same crime has been a blight on the traditional reputation of Herod for the past two thousand years. It is hard to muster sympathy for people who murder babies. In fact, the disobedience of the Herdsman, who as a servant of the Theban king had been entrusted with the task of abandoning the crippled child, is one of the more sympathy-evoking revelations in the drama. Oedipus, on his part, cuts out of Dodge. No explanation. No note. Good intentions for sure, but not a great deal of honestly dealing with the truth of the situation. He tries to sneak away from his fate. The audience can see the irony. Had he confided what he had learned and feared so greatly to Polybus and Merope, they could have protected him from fulfilling the oracle. The retelling of the murder scene doesnt make either party sound very honorable. Laius retinue is tearing along like a bunch of yahoos, and Oedipus comes across as a red neck who wont take no sass from some old geezer and his buddies. This scene is full of reprehensible behavior on both sides. Murder is a sin in all cultures. Sophocles seems also to be making a statement against monarchy. The Theban Plays were written for an Athenean audience. The pride that they took in their democratic form of government was based upon the belief that collective wisdom was preferable to placing too much power in the hands of any one individual. He seems to say that hubris is the result. The audience need only watch the grandiose pronouncements of Oedipus in this play and the devolution of the character of Creon throughout the trilogy to see that writers long before Orwell believed that power corrupts even good men. The behavior of Oedipus toward Tiresias is just one example of the denial mode that a powerful leader will go into when confronted by inconvenient truths. Jocasta goes from a scoffing attitude toward things religious to an outwardly duteous piety toward Apollo as a bribe to put Oedipus in a better frame of mind. Sophocles drew very largely the lesson that the gods must be revered and feared. It is hubris in this play which undoes the royal family of Thebes and hubris on the part of Creon which will do the same in Antigone. There is a proper relationship between the gods and humans in the Greek mythological system which has more differences than similarities to Judeo-Christian

attitudes of the creature-Creator relationship. One thing that they do share is a belief that the human must be right-sized in dealing with the divine. The Greeks made their gods in their image. Judeo-Christianity believes that God made humanity in His image. They both agree that we are not gods.