Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles performed in the early 400s B.C.
Blind and grimaced, a man sadly trudges the stairs of his palace for exile because of the grotesque crimes he committed unknowingly. This man, Oedipus in Sophocles’ tragedy “Oedipus Rex”, remains foolishly unaware of the sly trap the gods have set for him which causes eternal shame for him, and future generations. While it may seem that Oedipus controls his fate, the gods have set an alternate destiny that brings him to his untimely end. He unknowingly speaks of himself when he says, “Who is the man whose fate the gods pronounces!”(film). The gods malevolently predestine his suffering from the beginning to the end.
Oedipus could have gone to many other cities but he reaches Thebes according to the wishes of the gods. The hand of the gods can be very clearly seen here as they manipulate the stranger at king Polybus’ dinner and make king Laius to travel. While they maliciously drive Oedipus out of Corinth, they take advantage of his short-tempered nature to murder his father, king Laius, to fulfill the cursed prophecy. The gods fulfill a part of the prophecy by letting Oedipus victimize himself because his own impatience and anger. As he later expounds, ” I was very angry and I struck and killed the man inside the carriage” (film). Though it may seem that his flawed nature is responsible, fate blinds his path of suffering and destruction.
Oedipus at Sphinx (Image via Wikipedia)
Among a city of people and a prophet of the gods, only the very young Oedipus could answer the riddle of the sphinx because the gods made the special circumstances. The gods do not permit Tiresias the prophet to solve the riddle because when Oedipus later questions him, ” Where were you when the sphinx was ravaging the city?” (film) he does not reply. As in the past they once again use unsuspecting characters like Creon to make deals at that moment sound outstanding, but bite back in the end. They endow him with special wisdom only to solve the riddle and take queen Jocasta in marriage fulfilling the second part of the prophecy.
The plague brought upon the citizens of Thebes by the gods explicitly states that the gods want Oedipus to suffer. Coincidence can be blamed until now if the next incident did not occur. When Creon visits the oracle at Delphi, Apollo’s priest says that a ” Filthy thing resides in the city and until it is removed the plague will not stop” (film). This last doing by the gods plainly speak out the truth about their intentions for Oedipus. Again they twist the situation to their need and take advantage of Oedipus’s justifying nature. Concerned for the city, he leads a full-scale investigation and in doing so, he incriminates himself and fulfills the ultimate wish of the gods.
The gods have finally spoken that Oedipus, the descendant of Cadmus, must die. Before his birth fate chose the destiny of the Oedipus the king. It can be seen that the gods purposely twist the course of events to their benefit as they provoked the stranger at the dinner. By doing so they plot to fulfill the first part of the prophecy and lead him to the second deception. They shut the mouth of the prophet and the minds of the people so that with temporal wisdom bestowed upon him, he could answer the riddle. But the last plague proves that the gods want the king of Thebes to suffer. If the gods were able to condemn an innocent man on unjustifiable reasons, no one knows what they might do next.
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