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Sophocles' Oedipus

Satisfactory Essays
In Sophocles’ Oedipus The King, King Oedipus of Thebes is confronted

and strangely obsessed with the mystery of who killed Laios, the

former king of Thebes, for a great plague has overtaken the city of

Thebes because due to this murder. During his quest for the truth, he

begins to discover that the answer to his query is also the answer to

another disturbing mystery about himself, who am I? The work as a

whole seems to be a study of the nature of the mystery and how its

discovery brings out the true identity of Oedipus. The clues involved

in Oedipus’ puzzle surface a dark truth about his past and the fate

that he simply cannot shake the fact that he is the murderer and is

indeed controlled by the Gods, not as powerful as them.

When Kreon returns from Delphi, he tells Oedipus that he must, “avenge

the murderers of King Laios. (l.131)” In a desperate situation to save

his city, Oedipus focuses on Laios’ murder, consequently beginning the

play with the mystery of, “Who killed king Laios?” To help him in his

quest, Oedipus calls for the blind prophet Teiresias to use his powers

and identify the murderer. After receiving a ruthless interrogation

and many threats from Oedipus, the prophet reveals that Oedipus is in

fact the true slayer, “I say you, you are the killer you’re searching

for. (l.492)” Though calling Teiresias’ news as foolish deceit,

Oedipus later learns that the murder of King Laios had been foretold

to be at the hands of his lost son, which he exiled and sentenced to

death when his son was still a baby. Knowing that the same prophecy

was told to him by Apollo, Oedipus now knows that he is implicated in

the murder, and searches to find the underlying mystery of who he is,

which holds the key to the solution of the original mystery.

The mystery of who killed Laios quickly becomes dependent on the

mystery of who Oedipus really is and the events of his infancy and

upbringing.
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