Journal Oedipus the King

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One of the most interesting and tragic ideas about reading Oedipus by Sophocles is that we know what Oedipus does not. We know that he unknowingly killed his father. The idea of fate, or fulfilling a prophecy is complicated in this story. Oedipus, has no control of this story line, and could no way have changed what was already in place from the time of his birth. We know that he unknowingly killed his father.That he marries his mother, becoming as well brother-father to his own children.

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Things are bad in Thebes. Everything is dying and no one can figure out why. The people beg Oedipus to find out what has caused this curse and then do something about it. Oedipus sends Kreon to the oracle to learn the cause of his city’s troubles; Kreon returns and says they are to get rid of the “”we drive out what corrupts us. We now harbour something that is incurable.”” (488) Until then, Thebes will never be healed or relieved from its misery.

Kreon goes on to explain that the “”polluting stain”” the city has been harboring is the unknown murderer of Laius. Oedipus, not knowing that he is the one who committed the unholy act of killing the king, asks questions and tries to gather all the information he needs to find the murderer. Unfortunately, there is not much to be known. Kreon says again: Laius was killed. And now the god is clear those murderers, he tells us, must be punished,whoever they may be.

Oedipus out of love for his people which he believes at the time he has adopted as his new family, feeling a sense of responsibility for them and there welfare. Declares to uncover the mystery and find the murderer, as again the gods have ordained, ironically which is how this originally was set in motion. His actions and initial choices are that of a wise and merciful leader. He knows he must appease the gods to save his people , but not rule to harshly on a situation he isn’t fully aware of. Choosing instead to be open minded to all possible scenarios that may have lead to Laius death.

Oedipus says that anyone who knows who murdered Laius must reveal it to him immediately. The murderer, if present or known speaks up and confesses, he will be only exiled and not killed. Even if he is from another place, and tells Oedipus his name, he will be treated fairly by the king. We watch as he swears these oaths, his promise to his people to clear this blight from the land, thus saving them from the wrath of the gods. His intentions are well meant, but each one deliver him deeper into the phorcey in which he was not part of, nor had any chance to change.

And I pray, whoever the man is who did this crime,one unknown person acting on his own or with companions, the worst of agonies will wear out his wretched life. I pray, too that, if he should become a honoured guest in my own home and with my knowledge,I may suffer all those things I’ve just called down upon the killers. (493)

So, he warns his people not to harbor the murderer, shunning him in every way; then he heaps “”the worst of agonies””(492) on the murderer’s head until the day he dies. In a final display of his seriousness about this matter, he ends his speech with the statement that if he has in any way been an unwitting accessory to harboring the murderer, he will suffer all the same curses he just called down on the murderer. Oedipus has just unknowingly cursed himself–twice.

Sophocles wants us to consider the idea that no matter our choices, or even good intentions, that the outcome will never change. Life may unfold as a series of events and choices we feel our are own. We may consider the many options or paths available to us, yet it will still lead us to our inevitable conclusion.That somehow our fate is already determined. No matter how honorable or not our actions are, we can’t escape the past, and the subsequent events that follow.

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Journal Oedipus the King. (2019, Oct 25). Retrieved from