Oedipus Tyrannus Essay, Research Paper
Text-Based Argument #1: Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus
Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus is a story in which a city (Thebes) and its people have a problem and ask their King (Oedipus) to solve the problems, which face them, and get life back to normal. The people in Thebes (like many people when they have problems they can’t solve) go to outside sources of help to try to correct their problems. These outside sources go from other cities, prophets, messengers, and Shepard’s, in this case. People Oedipus calls and sends for from outside the city of Thebes help to piece together the facts to find the solution to the cities problems and expose (to every ones surprise) the unexpected answer. The outside influences, along with the knowledge of the people of Thebes, are all important to finding the resolution to the problems that are facing the city.
The characters who live in the city of Thebes are the people who have a problem that they cannot solve on their own. In solving those problems, the characters within the city of Thebes play just as much of a roll in solving them as do the characters from outside the city. Although the characters such as Teiresias, the messenger, and the shepherd all brought information to Oedipus and the city of Thebes, which was very crucial in finding the truth, none of this information would have been brought to Thebes if it wasn’t for the actions of characters within the city. The characters have to cooperate to come up with a solution. This situation is like having all the money in the world but it is no good until you go and get it.
In Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus all the characters within the city of Thebes play some sort of roll in the final outcome of the story whether large or small. In Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus was the main character and was the King of the suppliants and the one who had saved the people from such things as the Sphinx. Oedipus was also favored greatly by the gods. Oedipus Tyrannus lived in the city of Thebes in Greece about 450BC and ruled over the people that lived there. The truth, throughout the story, was fought for by him and hinted it was to include him in some way, but in which way we were not aware of until the end of our reading.
There are many small characters that have an impact on this story along with the main ones. These characters are looked at as the common people in the Village of Thebes, the messengers (even though the messengers bring important information), and also the old men of Thebes. The old men of Thebes take part in the Writen part of the story, by acting as a chorus and in that way voicing the opinion of the common people.
The roll the characters such as all the suppliants played was one where they gathered outside the palace and in the story were unnamed, and spoke no individual lines in the reading. These suppliants were called upon by Oedipus to bring forth any information that could be of help in finding the answer to the city of Thebes’ problems. The Priest is the leader of the suppliants and Oedipus communicates to the suppliants through him. In this way Oedipus hears the problems and thoughts of the suppliants in a timely manner.
The relationship of the main characters that live within the city of Thebes is a complicated one where some characters hold more than one relationship to another. Also the main characters often have conflicts in which one may have status over another, but the other may have knowledge, which gives him/her some sort of power over their superior. Some of the relationships that the characters have are family related and those relationships can sometimes conflict. Also some of the relationships between some characters are ones where secrets are kept and/or knowledge is known but not shared.
Oedipus sent Creon, his brother-in-law (and uncle unknown to Oedipus at this point), to Delphi to ask the Oracle what Oedipus must do to save the city of Thebes from the plague. Creon learned a lot from the Oracle, which was the first stepping-stone of the path to the truth that the characters followed. After Creon went to the Oracle Oedipus with the agreement of the chorus sought out Teiresias, the blind seer, who was a knowledgeable man from outside the city.
One example of how a family based relationship can be conflicting is the relationship between Iocasta and Oedipus. The relationship between Oedipus and Iocasta is one in which the two main characters have more than one relationship to one another. Iocasta is Oedipus’ wife but later in the story we learn that Iocasta is also Oedipus’ mother. This relationship that Oedipus and Iocasta have will later add another stepping stone to the truth and clear up some questions that have arose during the previous duration of the play.
The relationship that Oedipus and the Shepherd had is one where the Shepard has information that Oedipus wants. Oedipus demands this information using his power as King but for a brief time the Shepard had the power of knowledge. The Shepherds power was destroyed when Oedipus forced the Shepard to speak the truth he knew about his father. Oedipus and the Shepherd had a former relationship where, when Oedipus was an infant the Shepherd was assigned to dispose of Oedipus because of a prophecy that said Oedipus would grow to kill his father, Laius (unknown to Oedipus that Laius was his father until this point in the story (1109-1110)), and have sex with his mother, Iocasta (also unknown until this point in the story).
Some characters never speak a word in the play but are still an important factor to the story. One of these characters is Laius who is the real father of Oedipus, but Laius was killed before the story began and because of that fact never spoke a word in the play. Also Polybus, the father that Oedipus knew, died half way through the story and never spoke a single line in the play. These characters, even though they never are active in the story, can still have an effect on the story from many angles because of the relationship that they had with an active character in the play.
The relationship that Oedipus and Polybus shared before the story had an effect on the progression of the story. Their prior relationship had an effect on the story because of things that Oedipus assumed about his and Polybus’ relationship. Oedipus assumed that Polybus was his real father and when news came that Polybus had died, and of natural causes Oedipus assumed that the Oracle was false. When Oedipus assumed that the Oracle was false he slowed the story line down and added confusion because he eliminated possibilities that weren’t false.
The relationships that the characters have with each other can get confusing and complicated. Some characters such as Creon and Oedipus have a love then hate relationship because of accusations and mistrust. After the current problems of the city of Thebes are solved the relationships between all the characters change and new relationships form between different people.