Oedipus The King Essay

1039 words - 5 pages

The tragic drama Oedipus the King is regarded as one of Sophocles (495 and 405 B.C.) greatest and surviving plays. Written between 420 and 430 B.C., the Greek tragedy tells a story about an immortal’s attempt to defy the ill fate that his gods bestowed upon him. He became a fugitive, only to later uncover the roots of his birth, and find himself in the ruins foretold. From murder to vengeance, a stranger to the land he rules, proves to be native, and turns out to be the son and husband of the woman who borne him, and the father and brother of his very own children. Sophocles incites that the Olympian gods do exist, and that we cannot fight their decrees. We follow the fate they have devised for us, and all efforts to change their plans will prove useless, for we cannot escape our destiny.
It had been over a decade that the late ruler of Thebes, King Laius, was murdered when the Greek tragedy began unfolding. After the demise of King Laius, son of Labdacus, Oedipus of Corinth succeeded his throne. The stranger from Corinth was offered the royal authority rights when he saved the city from a sphinx who guzzled everyone who failed to solve her riddles. The late ruler’s widowed queen Jocasta also joined in matrimony with the Corinthian, and bore him four children, two daughters, Ismene and Antigone, and two sons, Polyneices and Eteocles. The story opens stage during a terrible plague that was sweeping throughout the city of Thebes, robbing women in labor of their children, land of their fruits, and livestock of their health. Shaken by this pandemic, citizens of Thebes visited their king to beseech help. Thebans concluded that Oedipus was the only one capable of ridding the plague that had befallen their city, for he was the renowned hero who defeated the devouring sphinx.
Already well-aware of the city’s sufferings, King Oedipus had already sent his brother-in-law Creon, son of Menoeceus and brother of Jocasta, to Pythian Apollo’s shrine. By virtue that Phoebus Apollo, son of Zeus, was the god of prophecy and healing, he held the wisdom that could save Thebes from being overrun by illness. When Creon returned, his findings were that the plague was crafted by the Olympian deities, and that the only way to expel the curse was to serve their late king justice for his murder. Their gods were angry, and called down the terrible pestilence when no one bothered to find and punish their departed king’s killers. Learning of this, Oedipus pledged to avenge the king who ruled before him.
Upon discovering the wisdom of Teiresias, a god-like prophet, Oedipus sends Creon to summon him. On arrival, the blind-old-prophet suggested that Oedipus did not want to know the answer he sought, but eventually exposes it—that it is Oedipus himself who slew King Laius, and that it is he—himself—he needs to punish to lift the curse. He also mentioned that Oedipus’s lack in knowledge of his...

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