Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Homer's Odyssey

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Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Homer’s Odyssey both deal on the topic of truth. In both works the character Tiresias, a blind prophet, participates in the different journeys by revealing various truths to the main characters. While the main importance of Tiresias in The Odyssey is to show that truth can be helpful, his importance in Oedipus the King is to attempt to discourage Oedipus on his journey to find the truth because he knows the truth can be negative as well.
The first thing that should be examined is the different ways that Tiresias reveals the truth in the two works. In The Odyssey, Tiresias is direct and to the point. He starts by stating that “A sweet smooth journey home … is what you seek, but a god will make it hard for you.'; From what can be read, Tiresias feels no need ‘sugarcoat’ what he is telling for two simple reasons. First, he came willingly to Odysseus, sugarcoating the truth would be a waste of time. The second and more important reason is that he has good news for Odysseus, relative to what has happened so far. On the other hand, in Oedipus the King, Tiresias skirts around telling Oedipus the truth. In fact, he initially refused to tell Oedipus anything at all, seen in such lines as “You’ll get nothing from me'; and “I’ll never reveal my dreadful secrets.'; The important thing is that when Oedipus got Tiresias angered, Tiresias bluntly stated that “[Oedipus is] the curse, the corruption of the land.'; When Oedipus responds to this, which will be discussed later, he continues to berate Tiresias for ‘lying’. Following that, Sophocles uses Tiresias to foreshadow the rest of the play for the reader, while cryptically half-hiding and half-telling Oedipus the truth, which is essentially ignored. The fact that Tiresias had to be summoned, instead of coming on his own, and that Tiresias attempted to hide the truth from Oedipus, shows that Tiresias was trying to protect Oedipus. He knew it would cause Oedipus harm in the end. Tiresias’ differing attitudes in the works serves as a parallel to how the truth told in general. Truth that brings hope to people is normally easily given, but truth that brings sadness or despair is generally told with caution and reluctance.

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...nd of whether or not he really was the person who murdered Laius. As a result of this suspicion, Oedipus began to pursue the truth with more fervor, which did eventually lead to his confirming the truth that Tiresias had already hinted at. In relation to the real world, this is significant because it shows that while truth is a wonderful and helpful idea, it is better to not know the truth because of the pain it can cause.
Both these works, when taken in comparison to each other, reveal much about how society tends to deal with the subject of truth. On the one side, represented by The Odyssey, is the idea that truth is beneficial, and can help one on their own personal journeys through life. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King represents the other side of truth, the bad and potentially harmful side. This play shows that there are truths that people are better off not knowing, for it would cause them more harm than good. As can be seen, both these works views on truth do play heavily into how society as a whole generally views and reacts to different ‘kinds’ of truth, being the good truths that help and the bad truths that hinder.
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