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Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) Essay

Sophocles tells perhaps the most tragic of all tales pertaining to great families in Greece. The play is divided into three parts, namely: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colossus, and Antigone. The plays focus on how one family experiences seemingly endless, tragic circumstances leading them to despair and anguish. There are a handful of strong characters that seem to have the courage to face these unfortunate events; however, there are also several characters that seem weak and easy prey for the tragedy. Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) The story revolves around Oedipus. Oedipus travels from Corinth to escape from a prophecy.

He meets a group of men who fights him; he defeats and kills all of the men, except for one. A sphinx is positioned right outside the gates of Thebes. Before anybody can enter the city, the sphinx asks him to answer its riddle. The sphinx eats the men who are not able to solve its riddle. Soon, men stop attempting to come near the gates of Thebes, and its inhabitants start to face famine. (Sophocles 1) When Oedipus faces the sphinx, he solves the riddle. The sphinx kills itself and Oedipus is able to enter Thebes. He is hailed as a hero and he marries the widowed queen, Jocasta.

Oedipus and Jocasta live in prosperity and have four children who grow up to be honored by the men and women of Thebes. Once their children grow of age, a revelation comes in the form of a Delphic Oracle. He tells the royal family that Oedipus is the child of Jocasta and her murdered King Laius. Jocasta kills herself after realizing the horror of what happened, and Oedipus, upon seeing the death of his wife and mother, blinds himself. Oedipus at Colonus The story begins after Oedipus has blinded himself to prevent himself from seeing the horror in his life. Thebes banishes Oedipus and he wanders with one of his daughters, Antigone.

They settle in Colonus near the city of Athens and are left in peace. There are very little developments in this story as opposed to the plots of Oedipus the King and Antigone. Oedipus accepts his fate and realizes what has become of the royal family. He grows old but regains respect as a man outside of Thebes. Both Antigone and Oedipus lead a quiet life. He passes away quietly and Antigone goes back to Thebes. Antigone Oedipus’ daughter, Antigone, returns to Thebes to find his brothers fighting for the throne. Both of her brothers, Polynieces and Eteocles, are killed in their battle against each other.

Eteocles is given a hero’s burial since he fights for Thebes. King Creon, the king of Thebes, orders that Polynieces should not be buried because he has defied Thebes and has fought against it. Antigone pities her brother and decides to bury him despite the pleas of her sister, Ismene. Antigone argues that she cannot possibly let Polynieces’ remains to be exposed and dishonored. She proceeds to make a burial for her brother despite the King’s orders. King Creon finds out about Antigone’s treachery and orders that she be punished – that she be put to death. The Thebans and Ismene try to convince King Creon to reconsider his punishment.

He retracts his edict, but they find it futile since Antigone has already taken her own life. The Political Purpose Sophocles’ trilogy shows the dynamics of the relationships within a royal family during ancient Greece. There are a lot of responsibilities bestowed upon the members of the family that there are times during which their own happiness is taken away: they are called to choose their duty above their own lives. Antigone’s strength of character is a most admirable trait a royal has shown – she gave up her life and liberty to do the right thing. The Evolution of Prophetic Literature

Sophocles shows the promise of a riveting plot and how it can be made by using prophesies as a major element in the story. He illustrates the importance of believing and following the oracles’ counsel. (Segal 129) Oracles plays very significant parts in Sophocles’ plays. There are several more works which take after the formula of this play. The Oedipus trilogy is marked as one of the stronger foundations in Prophetic Literature. Works Cited Segal, Charles. Sophocles’ tragic world: divinity, nature, society. Harvard University Press, 1998. Sophocles. The Oedipus Trilogy. Kessinger Publishing, 2004.


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