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Sinopsis On Oedipus
Oedipus is first introduced as a savior. A priest, surrounded by a crowd of questioning children and peasants, has come to ask Oedipus what may be done to alleviate the terrible blights which afflict the city of Thebes. He comes to hear their story directly, instead of asking them to explain to a messenger: "I did not think it fit that I should hear/of this from messengers but came myself ... Indeed I'm willing to give all/that you may need; I would be very hard/should I not pity suppliants like these" (p.11, 6-13). This role is an extension of the heroic part that Oedipus plays in rescuing the city from the Sphinx in a riddling contest. His first introduction to Thebes is his use of reason to defeat evil, and the people recognize his abilities and respond accordingly: "we have not come as suppliants to this altar/because we thought of you as a God,/but rather judging you the first of men" (p.12, l.31-33).

Despite their views about his personal humanity, they do not see his wisdom as originating from human means. The people of Thebes blame the pestilence destroying their city upon the gods; so, too, do they credit Oedipus's foresight and counsel as being of godly origin. Oedipus himself chooses to ignore this popular conception of his power. He responds to this call for godly aid with an account of his own personal attempts to unravel the problem, never once even making an allusion to immortals. He tells them, "my spirit groans/for city and myself and you at once" (p.13, l.64-65), thereby signifying that he has personally taken the problems of Thebes upon himself to solve, disregarding the usefulness of the gods.

It is Creon who introduces the idea of an oracle from Apollo as a viable solution to the epidemic of disasters. Although Oedipus doesn't ask the gods for help himself, he, like the rest of the population, sees the message from Apollo as factual information much the way that a detective investigating a murder case might admit an expert opinion. Oedipus relies more readily on his personal prowess than upon divine aid, but his wish to help his people leads him to admit supernatural options. He wants to save the city again, and his quest for the truth is efficient and just: "so stand I forth a champion of the God/and of the man who died" (p.20, l.244-245). Oedipus is straddling two bridges with this statement. In his person, he unwittingly links divine justice with individual conscience, and the result is a unique character: in his use of reason, his fair-mindedness and his temper, his absolute power, and his doom.

To his great credit, Oedipus doesn't cease his pursuit of the truth and the old kings murderer, despite the accumulation of events that weigh the scales toward Oedipus himself. In fact, the first instance in which his temper is revealed is when he first encounters Teiresias, a seer who refuses to divulge the truth he admits to knowing. Gently, the blind seer tries to warn Oedipus, "let me/go home. It will be easier for us both/to bear our several destinies to the end/if you will follow my advice" (p.23, l.319-322). But Oedipus doesn't want anything withheld from him, and he gradually becomes more heated in his wheedling, until the prophet spits out the truth in disgust, and, cursing, takes his leave. An important character trait emerges in Oedipus during this exchange. Teiresias, in his last attempt to be remotely civil, tells Oedipus "it is not fate that I should be your ruin,/Apollo is enough; it is his care/to work this out" (p.27, l.376-378). However, Oedipus's pride is hurt by this aspersion, and his patience is quite at an end. He responds with a caustic and accusatory speech which angers Teiresias enough to provoke a similar response from the prophet and yet, Oedipus is not so much challenging fate as oblivious to it. He prioritizes the truth above his personal well-being, and, by doing so, admits his view of fate as a lesser force in his consciousness than the safety of Thebes.

In Oedipus the King, Oedipus shows sound reasoning, if laced with fantastic anger when provoked. He displays an independence from the culture of polytheism and fate in his unbound manner of problem-solving. He tells the chorus "I account myself a child of fortune" (p.58, l.1080), and he proves through his actions that he is willing to defy even a prophet of Apollo to find...
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Sinopsis On Oedipus. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from