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Oedipus the King - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Oedipus The King Brief Synopsis The plot revolves around the actions taken by King Oedipus to avoid the prolonged scourge that the people of Thebes were going through, thanks to a curse. The citizens’ gifts to the gods in the form of branches wrapped in wool do little to save them from poverty and eventual death…
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Oedipus the King
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Oedipus the King

Creon returns with a message from the oracle and insists on delivering the message in private to the king. Oedipus however, insists that he will hear the message in front of his citizens. The message is that the god Apollo through the oracle, demands that, for the curse to be lifted, the murderer of Laius must be found and brought to justice. Laius was the former king of Thebes before Oedipus. He was attacked and killed on a crossroad by thieves when on his way to consult an oracle. All, but one of his travelling companions survived the attack (3). Oedipus’s Innocence In determining whether Oedipus was guilty or not, one has to put into account information that was available to him at the time his alleged crimes were committed. A great portion of Oedipus’s innocence lies in his ignorance of his past and that of Thebes. Oedipus had attacked and killed a group of travellers at a crossroad sometime in the past. At the time, they did not seem significant and never did he think that this incidence would ever come up in the future. When he was a child, it was revealed to him, by an old man that he was adopted; furthermore he was told that he would kill his biological father and have carnal relations with his biological mother. What he did not know at the time that these individuals would be king Laius and his wife, Jocasta, respectively. There was some aspect of relief when news reached Thebes that his adoptive father had passed on. The relief was however, short lived since future investigations revealed that the man he killed at the crossroads was king Laius. In this aspect, Oedipus is innocent of both regicide – Killing a king- and patricide – Killing his father- because he had no idea who the man was at the time (30 - 35). Assassinating a leader was and still is a serious offence. Oedipus’s case however has two possible outcomes. First, if Oedipus attacked Laius’s travelling party first without being provoked, then, he is guilty of murder. Secondly, if Oedipus was attacked first By Laius, then this can only be viewed as a classic case of self-defence. Both these theories can be true depending on who among the two survived to tell the story. When Oedipus took over as king following Laius’s death, he also took up his widow, Jocasta, as his wife. Oedipus had a number of children by Jocasta as his wife. Knowing what has been mentioned above; this is an obvious case of incest. Oedipus is however, innocent of incest since neither he nor Jocasta had any idea that they were related in the remotest possible manner. When Oedipus realized that he had been having an incestuous relationship with his own biological mother, he punished himself very harshly by plucking out both his own eyes. His mother or wife consequently killed herself on learning that the son that she thought had been killed long ago, was the man whom she shared a bed with. Oedipus’s Guilt Oedipus’s guilt in one aspect seems to stem from hubris. He had previously gotten his peoples acclaim by saving them from the curse of the sphinx. Seeing a chance to emerge a hero yet again, he completely ignores all advice given to him. First, on lifting the curse of the sphinx, he was specifically warned not to investigate the murder of Laius. Instead he promises his citizens that he will investigate the murder and decrees a steep penalty for whoever is found guilty. Secondly, his pride comes in when he orders Creon to tell him the news from Apollo ... Read More
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