Opedius Rex level: grade 10 honors subject: English / Oedipus Rex score: A Title: The Transformation of Oedipus When Oedipus, as a young man, first learned from one of Apollo92s oracles that he was destined to murder his father and marry his mother, he fled his home in Corinth, attempting to defy the prophecy, and he wandered the roads of Greece. In hi s wanderings he happened upon another traveler who obstructed his path.
Being too proud to detour from his course and let this other man through, Oedipus killed him. He went on to become king of Thebes by marrying the residing queen, Jocaste. Under Oedipus92 rule, the city saw immediate and lasting prosperity.But fifteen years down the line, a plague swept over Thebes, and the only cure for the city92 s troubles was for its former king Laius92 murderer to be brought to justice.
Laius had disappeared fifteen years earlier, shortly before Oedipus arrived in Thebes and solved the riddle of the sphinx, freeing the city from its clutches. Oedipus sends for the omniscien t Tiresias, who is reluctant to reveal the implicating information to the king, but Oedipus 92 refuses to let his pride falter, so he blindly pursues the identity of the murderer, unawar e that he is on a mission of self-incrimination. Tiresias92 words lead Oedipus to learn that Laius was his both his father and the former king of Thebes, not to mention the traveler that Oedipus killed on his passage to Thebes.
So he punishes himself by gouging out his eyes, in retribution for his crimes. It is often said the Oedipus was fated to doom, that he could have done nothing; to the contrary, Oedipus spent every moment of his life digging his own grave.His excessive pride and arrogance, as well as his notion that he could challenge a prophecy from the gods, were the shovel he dug with.
All the important decisions he made in his lifetime, he made with this hubris. His judgements were all the foundation for his demise; he, not fate, constructed his path to doom. After the drunkard at a party in his home of Corinth blurted out 93You are not your father92s son,94 Oedipus embarked on a journey to Delphi to learn the vali dity of this statement. But he learned much more important matters upon arriving, namely the infamous prophecy that he would kill his father and couple with his mother, who, to his knowledge, were Polybus and Merope, the king and queen of Corinth. So Oedip us abandoned his life in the city of those who had raised him.This outright mocking of the gods92 prophecy was a big step in Oedipus92 downfall.
He thought he could outrun the prediction, but instead, his arrogance pushed him into its grasp in Thebes, where his real parents, Laius and Jocaste, reigned. His own pride would again bring him to fulfill the destiny he dreaded so much on the way to Thebes. He would not stray slightly from his path to let Laius by, and he killed him. Oedipus had much more pride than it took to simply attempt to invalidate the prophecy by refraining from murder altogether; his arrogance led him to kill a stranger.Had he been able to swallow his conceitedness and let Laius by, Oedipus woul d not have proceeded to the midpoint of the prophecy.
By killing his father, he fulfilled the first half of it. Oedipus goes on believing that his Corinthian caretakers were his biological parents up to and through the death of Polybus, who fell of natural causes. In fact, this reinforces Oedipus92 false belief that he could defy Apollo92s prophecy, furthering his pompous nature. Tiresias sees that Oedipus92 pride counters his desire for the excruciating truth, and hesitates to tell him.To Oedipus, this is a challenge of the king92s authority. He wants desperately to prove to the people of Thebes that he ha s saved them before and can do it again.
Unwilling to accept defeat before the populatio n of the city, he accuses Tiresias and Creon of treason. As he pushes Tiresias for more information on Laius92 murderer, he pushes for his own defeat, visionless from his own pride. Not content with Tiresias92 riddle that reveals to the audience, who are not blind like the Thebian king, that Oedipus is the killer, Oedipus probes deeper into the mystery. He disregards the beckoning of his wife Jocaste to not look further into the puzzle and becomes a detective on the trail to expose himself.Determined not to look weak in front of Thebes, Oedipus has neglected the warnings of both a prophet and his wife . He tries looking everywhere but inside himself, where the answer is closer. He would have saved himself loads of trouble had he only taken a step back from the entire fiasco, and seen that all leads point the finger at him.
But his pride was his blindfold, hi s hubris his downfall. In the end, Oedipus learns what has been under his nose the whole time, what he was unable to see because of his tragic flaw.The flaw that has been killin g him slowly since his birth. Oedipus92 arrogance took away his eyes, and it is ironic that only when he physically gouged out his own eyes with Jocaste92s pins was he able to see. At that point, he knew that he could not escape the prophecy; he knew that was too proud to ever make a correct judgement. Before, Oedipus was the epitome of what was desired in society; he had power, a wife, and wealth.
Alas, his wife committed suicide, and he renounced his reign over Thebes, rejecting the power and the wealth.But in doing so, he gained something infinitely more valuable yet infinitely less tangible: wisdom. He gained insight into himself, something he had lacked for all his life.
Hubris killed Oedipus the King, and humility created the new Oedipus.