Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King brings one to ask oneself an important question; do humans make their own decisions in life? Or is everything already decided for them by fate? Teiresias’ role in the play coincides with those questions. Teiresias is only in one scene of the entire play, and when he enters Oedipus is very pleased to see him because he is the only person who can tell Oedipus who killed Laius. Teiresias is blind and old, but extremely knowledgeable nonetheless. Teiresias is the prophet of Apollo and is clairvoyant through him. Teiresias also gathers his prophetic knowledge from observing the flight of birds, or by inspecting bird entrails. Teiresias is a blind man who can see clearly, surrounded by people who can see clearly but are blind.
Teiresias’ name literally means “a blind seer” and that is exactly what he is. Teiresias’ role in this play is to tell Oedipus that his fate has found him despite his best efforts to avoid it. Sophocles wants the reader to question fate when reading this piece. Although Oedipus tried to avoid what was foretold, at the end he could not escape his fate. When Teiresias first meets with Oedipus, who was begging to know who killed Laius, Teiresias is hesitant to tell him the truth, saying “Of themselves things will come, although I hide them and breathe no word of them.” (370-1) and then once he finally comes out with the truth Oedipus is quick to disregard it and even goes so far as to blame Teiresias for the death of Laius. Despite Oedipus’ strong words of anger, Teiresias stays relatively calm and says “You are a poor wretch to taunt me with the very insults everyone will soon heap upon yourself” (408-10). This scene is a turning point of the play beca...
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...character flaws as before Teiresias comes on scene Oedipus is very courteous of his people and seems to be a great ruler, it isn’t until Teiresias arrives that the reader gets a glimpse of Oedipus’ true short-tempered nature.
Oedipus the King is a piece that will make the reader contemplate their own life and question fate. Sophocles wrote Teiresias as the embodiment of fate and leaves the reader to wonder if they have any choice in what happens throughout their lifetime. As humble as he is, he is also quick-witted and speaks his mind when angered. Without Teiresias’ role in the play the crucial part of Oedipus’ quick-temper would not have been revealed. Teiresias knows his physical limits; he is calm and even as a prophet of Apollo he stays humble, he is an old man who is only in the play for a short amount of time, but he is a huge contributor to how it ended.
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