The Story Of Oedipus Rex

1035 Words5 Pages
The story of Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles and generously translated by Robert Fitzgerald and Dudley Fitts, is a greek tragedy that evokes strong emotions from even the most apathetic readers. The main character, Oedipus, may seem to have a picturesque life with 4 children, a loving wife, and respect from most, but be wary because all is not as it seems. In attempt to rid Thebes of a plague of infertility, he uncovers many truths that turn out to be a poison chalice for Oedipus. As described by Aristotle, a tragic hero is, “A virtuous man whose misfortune is brought about not by depravity, but by some error or frailty.” Oedipus is the perfect example of a classic tragic hero because he is a waning king who lets his hubris get the best of him, which eventually leads to his reversal of fate and inevitable downfall. The most obvious archetypal characteristic that Oedipus shares is the fact that (although unaware at first) he is of royal blood. After the previous king, Laius, was arbitrarily murdered, the citizens of Thebes looked to Oedipus to claim the throne after heroically defeating the Sphinx. The Sphinx is a riddling creature that not even Apollo’s prophets can decipher, so when Oedipus decoded the Sphinx’s riddles and ultimately kills the monster, the citizens of Thebes look to him. Because of such a triumph, Oedipus is treated with respect and reverence by all the Theban people; including the Priest, who when consulting Oedipus, begins with, “Great Oedipus, O powerful King of Thebes!” (Oedipus Rex 16). The priest and other characters within the play (including Oedipus himself) refer to Oedipus with the utmost respect, by using terms such as great and powerful. In return, he treats them with kindness and empathy as if the city and its people are his own children. In response to the Priest’s dreadful news he cries out, “Poor children! You may be sure I know/All that you longed for in coming here./ I know that you are deathly sick; and yet,/Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I […] my spirit/Groans for the city, for myself, for you.” (Oedipus Rex 60-66). Although he is perfectly healthy, he states that no one is as sick as he is to express his concern for his people. Oedipus, as a
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