Who Is Oedipus Selfish

Decent Essays

The character Oedipus in Oedipus The King by Sophocles is a prideful, headstrong man weakened by his hamartia- tragic flaw. Oedipus believes that his intelligence and strength are superior to all. However, the gods must let him reach his zenith before they strip him of these arrogant beliefs along with everything else he values. Oedipus The King or Oedipus Rex begins in media res. Fifteen years prior to the beginning of the work, Oedipus has saved the city of Thebes from the Sphinx, a female monster, who has taken up residence outside of the city limits. The Sphinx terrorized the inhabitants and travelers of Thebes by, “strangl[ing] the inhabitants one by one for not being able to answer her riddle” (Sophocles 3). By Athenaeus’ account, …show more content…

The city has dwelled in peace and prosperity under Oedipus’ reign. However, this has been a “sham prosperity cloaking corruption” (Sophocles 3). The gods are “disgusted” by the corruption in Thebes; Oedipus has married his mother and fathered four children with her: Antigone, Ismene, Polyneices, and Eteocles. Oedipus has also killed his biological father, the King of Thebes, without knowing it was his father. The city is consequently, “struck by plague” (Sophocles 3). During the “prime of [his] life and power” the citizens of Thebes flock to the palace with the hopes that Oedipus will save them again (Sophocles 3). Oedipus seems to be the ideal king that is genuinely concerned with the wellbeing of his citizens, telling them: “I know too well, you all are sick, yet sick, not one so sick as I. Your pain is single, each to each, it does not breed. Mine is treble anguish crying out for the city, for myself, for you” (Sophocles 7). Oedipus, to rid the city of the plague, hastily sends Creon, his uncle and brother in law, “to the place Apollo haunts at Pythia to learn what act or covenant of mine could still redeem the state” without consulting the gods (Sophocles 7). Oedipus vows “whatsoever he shall tell me from the god, that to the hilt I’ll do- or I am damned” without knowing that his fate has already been determined (Sophocles 7). When Creon returns to Thebes from the oracle, he asks Oedipus if he would like to hear the news, “publicly, on the spot” or in private (Sophocles 8). Oedipus boldly states, “speak out to all. It’s more for them than me, more my own than my own soul” hinting to a sense of arrogance about his abilities (Sophocles 8). Creon tells Oedipus that they, “must stop feeding what festers…the city frets with [Laius’] blood… And now clearly is required the just blood of his assassins…Only that escapes which never was pursued’” (Sophocles 8-9). Upon hearing this

Get Access