Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

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Greek mythology frequently has a superior ruler, a ruler that figures out difficult circumstances with superior intellect. Sophocles' "Oedipus the King" is no different. Before Oedipus arrives in Thebes, the Sphinx haunted the city by asking travelers her dark riddle "What walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening?" With simplicity, Oedipus solves the riddle, destorys the Sphinx, marries his mother, and takes the throne. Although Oedipus figures out the riddle with ease, he also cannot comprehend that the riddle has much to do with his own life. Within Oedipus' life, there are three phases in which he realizes his identity. The riddle of Sphinx is a metaphor for these phases. In the morning, Oedipus' begins as an infant on four legs, remaining unaware of his line of descent. It is concealed by mystery, like the Sphinx. Before Oedipus’ birth, his father Laius, travels to the Oracle at Delphi, who prophesied that his unborn son, Oedipus, would kill his father and marry his mother. To prevent this, Laius proceeds to take his son to a herdsman and orders him to be killed. Although Laius leaves his son for dead, destiny could not escape the morning. Oedipus survived and was later adopted by the King Polybus by Corinth. As an infant, balanced on all four legs, Oedipus depended on the herdsman and his newly adopted parents to fend for him. This marks the beginning of Oedipus' oblivion of his mysterious upbringing. As Oedipus approaches middle age, he still has no knowledge of ancestry. Until one night, a man at a feast proclaims that Oedipus has no idea who is father is. Although his adoptive parents urged Oedipus to ignore the man's ravings, he could not put his mind to rest... ... middle of paper ... ...knowledge, Oedipus puts himself on a throne which he gained by killing his father and marrying his mother. Ironically, by Oedipus blinding himself, in the end, he has never seen his own life so vividly. Oedipus does not realize the consequences of his decisions, so his pride continuously grows, further blurring his perception. The tragedy mainly resides in the intimation of a greater reality through self awareness which stands limited and may be defeated by necessity. That even with the distraction of outside forces, it is vital that one still claims one's self awareness. Sadly in Oedipus' case, his perception is blurred by his self-importance, therefore creating a life filled with more vanity. So what makes him the archetypal tragic man? It's Oedipus' striving for greatness only to be cut down, falling from prosperity to the harsh depths of misfortune.

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