Thoughts on Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex is one of the few Greek tragedies that we have in its entirety. Though written by Sophocles, it fits the Aristotelian mold of tragedy perfectly. In it, King Oedipus, is hailed as a hero of Thebes for having solved the riddle of the sphinx. However, prophecy looms over his life. Adding salt to the wound, he becomes obsessed with disproving said prophecy. According to the god Apollo, Oedipus is meant to kill his father and marry his mother. He will bear children with her and subsequently such a disgusting act will mark their downfall.
Throughout the story, bother Oedipus and his wife, Jocasta, can think of nothing else but this prophecy. Yet, when Oedipus calls in the blind prophet to tell him who killed the previous king Laius, he mocks his blindness and accuses him of lying when the prophet says Oedipus himself was the murderer. They both refuse to hear what they don't want. Oedipus repeatedly makes excuses to disprove the prophecy. He claims that his supposed parents live in Corinth, and his father has died of natural causes. Jocasta, who was married to Laius before his murder, claims that he was killed by bandits at a crossroads, not a single man. However, the truth becomes unbearably clear when the shepherd who discovered three day old Oedipus in the wild describes his real history. When King Laius heard that his child would kill him, he ordered the child be left to die of exposure, feet bound so he can move. Oedipus looks at his own disfigured ankles and realizes his mistakes. His parents in Corinth adopted him. He is the true son of Laius and Jocasta. He was the one who murdered Laius at the crossroads.
Jocasta hangs herself out of shame, having her hopes of hiding the truth from Oedipus to protect his happiness crushed. Oedipus finds himself so guilty that he takes Jocasta's golden brooches from her dress and gouged out his eyes with them. Now blind, he can truly see. He becomes like Tiresias, aware now of the full truth.
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