Oedipus Prophecy of Destruction
In the oracle at Delphi, a prophetic vision claims that King Laius? is fated to be killed by the hands of his son. Neglecting the truth, Laius abandons his son to die on the mountainside as an act of resistance against the gods. Eventually, Laius is murdered where three roads meet towards Delphi. Years later, plagued by death, the city of Thebes is reigned by its powerful king Oedipus who seeks to avenge the death of its predecessor Laius. Apollo — the God of Truth — declares that the plague will end only when this discovery is made. In Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, the life of Oedipus is highlighted as he uncovers his predetermined yet traumatic destiny: marrying his mother and murdering his father. Despite futile efforts to avoid this fate, Oedipus rejection and acceptance of the truth ultimately leads him back to face the inescapable course of destruction.
Once the search for Laius murderer begins, King Oedipus fervently displays his desire to find the culprit. Oedipus defines his plan of action through: Then once more I must bring what is dark to light. / To avenge the city and the city’s god / and not as though it were for some distant friend, / but for my own sake, to be rid of evil. / Whoever killed Laius might decide at any moment / to kill me as well (lines 134-140). Oedipus details the importance of finding the murderer of Laius as his servitude to saving the city of Thebes once again.
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As king of Thebes, his high rank is seen as a target to be murdered. Oedipus unconsciously epitomizes the darkness characterized through his denial and ignorance of his true identity. He believes that to find the one responsible will actually restore good-will (the light) to Thebes that has been stricken with death. In a way, Oedipus believes that he is truly the only one who can solve Laius murder, so it becomes his personal mission. Furthermore, in search of the defilement, Oedipus declares, That he be driven from every house, being as he is corruption itself to us: the Delphic Voice of Zeus has pronounced this revelation. Thus, I associate myself with the oracle and take the side of the murdered king (lines 24-28). Oedipus adamantly ostracizes the one responsible for Laius death. He categorizes the murderer as being corruption or a force of evil, and himself as being devoted to discovering the truth. He uses a feared, Olympian God to claim the righteousness of his decisions. To Oedipus, anything evil in the city of Thebes must be destroyed. Additionally, Oedipus is defining the societal importance of the oracle and its powerful ability to gain people’s trust in it.
Secondly, Oedipus refusal to acknowledge his predetermined destiny is inevitably his downfall. In his argument with Tiresias, he blindly accuses him of slaying Laius by stating, You planned it. You had it done, / you all but killed him with your own hand: / if you had eyes, I?d say the crime was yours and yours alone (lines 128-130). Oedipus is presented as ignorant to falsely accuse Tiresias because he is one who knows the least about the situation. Out of everyone, Tiresias is the least likely to be capable of a murder given his loss of sight. Although Tiresias is blind, he is well aware of the truth. In contrast, Oedipus possesses sight and yet he is still refusing to see the truth in his prophecy. This is rather ironic considering he takes his own sight when he discovers the truth. Once his sight is taken, is the moment when he becomes embodied by his truth. However, Oedipus is deeply in denial when he states, yours alone, so he searches for other outlets to place the blame. He desires to disassociate himself from Laius murder which only leads him to meet his own turmoil. Moreover, Oedipus persistence in his quest to pursue his truth, is depicted when he discovers his adoption from the herdsman. Despite pleas from his wife, Jocasta to end his search, Oedipus instantly seeks to inspect his birth origin by expressing, How can you say that / when the clues to my true birth are in my hands? (lines 138-139). On the brink of self-discovery, Oedipus will not let anything interfere with finding his connection to King Laius and this includes his wife Jocasta. His oblivion that Jocasta is his birth mother only fuels his desire to seek after the truth. Oedipus longing to find his true identity also indirectly costs Jocasta her life.
Furthermore, in attempt to hastily avoid his prophecy, Oedipus met his destiny of a ruinous reality: murdering his birth father — King Laius, and marrying his mother, Jocasta. In his epiphany, Oedipus shouts, The God was Apollo. / He brought my sick, sick fate upon me. / But the blinding hand was my own (lines 111-113). This details how humans, like Oedipus share no free will in the course of their lives, the Gods are the deciding factor. Oedipus confirms this as he characterizes his newfound life as a sickness that Apollo has caused. He states that he was merely a blinding hand or catalyst in carrying out his wretched sins. Oedipus takes ownership of his wrongdoings and is now left to confront the devastating effects of it. Likewise, Oedipus comes to terms with his prophecy through, But his command is plain: the parricide / must be destroyed. I am that evil man (lines 211-212). Oedipus now understands the extent of his actions in connection to King Laius? murder. He drastically changes his previous judgement of the situation and fully understands that he must fulfill the punishments of the prophecy. Oedipus? realization is that he is actually the evil one he has been searching for this entire time.
In conclusion, Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, seeks to lead Oedipus on a self-discovery journey of his fixed prophecy which he desperately attempts to avoid. Oedipus? disregard yet enlightenment to his truth creates an ending of devastation and ruin. Oedipus is taken through tribulations that lead him closer to his discovery. He comes to terms that running from his fate causes fate to inevitably occur. This produces pain but acceptance in the truth.