Oedipus According To The Traditional Interpretations Of Essay

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Oedipus According to the traditional interpretations of classical drama, Oedipus the King was brought down by the gods or fate because of his pride, egoism and arrogance, which the ancient Greeks called hybris (hubris). His father King Laius left him exposed to the elements on a mountainside when he was three days old because he believed the prophecy that his son would murder him then marry his mother, so he imagined that he was saving his own family line from disgrace. Yet when he met his son on the road to Delphi many years later, he and his chariot driver were treated him in a very rude and contemptuous manner, so Oedipus killed them, without even knowing who Laius was. Neither man was willing to give way on the road, and would not tolerate the insults of the other, so the old prophecy was fulfilled. Oedipus goes on to become king of Thebes, and ends up marrying his mother Jocasta and having children with her. When a plague and blight strikes the city, though, he insists on finding out the cause and then discovering the murderer of Laius, ignoring all warnings that he really should not want to know the truth. Here again, Oedipus feels great pride in his wisdom and cunning, but both he and Jocasta and disgraced and destroyed when everyone in Thebes learns the truth of their sins.

From the very start of the play, the pride and hybris of Oedipus...

...

In speaking to the Choras, which often represents the citizens of Thebes as well as the judgments of the audience and history, Oedipus announces that he is "hither come, myself, I Oedipus, your well-renowned king" (Ford 85). Even when he hears the story about the death of Laius he thinks first and foremost that the same assassin might strike at him, so "therefore in righting him I serve myself" (Ford 89). He proclaims that whoever comes forward to admit to the crime will only be exiled rather than executed, ironically passing sentence on himself. He threatens Teresias until he tells him that he is the murderer of his father but then refuses to believe this. Instead he accuses him of plotting with Creon to overthrow and assassinate him, to which he replied that "greatness proved thy bain" (Ford 97).
Laius never appears in the play except through the memory of Jocasta and others who remembered him, but he was also an angry, prideful and even tyrannical man. Thinking a three-day-old infant was a threat to him and his dynasty he "gave it to be cast away" (Ford 105). Oedipus recalled meeting an old man in a chariot on the road the Delphi, and how Laius and his driver "threatened to thrust me rudely from the path." He did not know that this man was…

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Ford, James H. (ed). The Greek Classics: Sophocles Seven Plays. El Paso Norte Press, 2006.


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