Oedipus the King Essay

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Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex has fascinated readers for over two millennia with its tale of a man who falls from greatness to shame. The enigmatic play leaves many questions for the reader to answer. Is this a cruel trick of the gods? Was Oedipus fated to kill his father and marry his mother? Did he act of his own free will? Like the Greeks of centuries past, we continue to ponder these perennial questions. Part of the genius of Sophocles is that he requires a great deal of mental and spiritual involvement from his audience.

The search for the truth behind the story involves all of the characters. There is hardly a scene or conversation in which the theme of sight and blindness is not in one way or
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By presenting his audience with this paradox at the start, he quickly gives sight a more than physical meaning.

The paradox of sight is central to an understanding of the play and Sophocles quickly establishes that Oedipus has physical sight and that Tiresias is physically blind. As the king and the seer converse, it becomes apparent that sight and blindness on the physical level are not what is important. Tiresias has the spiritual sight that Oedipus lacks in his own figurative blindness and Tiresias accuses him of this when his patience has been tried:

You mock my blindness, do you?
But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind:
You can not see the wretchedness of your life,
Nor in whose house you live, no, nor with whom.” (Oedipus 1.195-198)
The blind seer goes on to predict that Oedipus will one day be physically blind and depend on the same sort of staff he mocked Tiresias for using. The physical darkness in which Tiresias lives does not hinder his perception of the truth, but Oedipus cannot see the truth even though he walks by the light of day.

So what then does it mean to see if physical definitions do not apply? Sophocles speaks through Tiresias to create a two-fold definition for sight. First, to see is to be able to recognize the truth. The chorus introduces Tiresias as “the holy prophet in whom, alone of all men, truth

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