Oedipus The King Essay Research Paper Oedipus 2

Oedipus The King Essay, Research Paper

Oedipus: King Of Riddles?

In Greek mythology the oracles or gods are rarely wrong in their

predictions of the future. Yet the characters still try to fight the

predictions. Do their personalities and traits decide their future, or does

fate take its course no matter what? Oedipus was a shrewd man furnished

with wit and intellect, yet his lack of insight (the ability to see and

understand clearly the inner nature of himself) and his arrogance led to

his demise, not fate.

Oedipus’s aret? (an exceptional ability or gift) was unravelling

riddles, and solving any puzzles with ease. He had a surplus of the

aptitude to look outward, but unfortunately he had a deficiency of the

ability to look inward. This talent of looking outward made him renowned

for deciphering riddles and mysteries. Yet when Tiresias appears and speaks

in riddles, Oedipus cannot solve them because of his lack of insight.

Tiresias’s riddles are clear in what they state, but Oedipus cannot

understand them because he doesn’t know himself well enough. Tiresias


All ignorant! And I refuse to link my utterance with a downfall

such as yours.(Pg.42) At this point in the play, Oedipus still cannot

perceive who the murderer of King Laius is, even though the riddle is

obvious. Oliver 2 Oedipus has the ability to comprehend the riddles, but

he won’t allow himself to accept the truth. When Oedipus saved Thebes from

The Sphinx, he answered this difficult puzzle. The Sphinx demanded, What

creature is it that walks on four feet in the morning, on two at noon, and

on three in the evening? With his eminent mastery of riddles and having an

open mind, Oedipus replied, It is Man. As a child he crawls on four. When

he grows up he walks upright on his two feet, and in old age he leans on a

staff.1 This puzzle is far more complex than Tiresias’s rudimentary

riddles, so Oedipus has the ability to solve the riddles but cannot let

himself do so, because of his pomposity. Oedipus is so arrogant that he

can’t believe that he could possibly have done anything wrong. He suffered

from the sin of hubris. That is, he was very vain, and conceited. No matter

how straightforward Tiresias’s riddles were, Oedipus’s pride wouldn’t let

him solve them. Finally, Tiresias came right out and said what he meant

without a riddle, and Oedipus still couldn’t accept that he did anything

wrong. Tiresias simply stated, I say, you murdered the man whose murderer

you require. (Pg.37) Following that remark from Tiresias, Oedipus shielded

himself by accusing his brother in law, Creon (his uncle in reality), of

forcing these insinuations from Tiresias. Of course, this wasn’t true, it

was just a classic example of Oedipus’s arrogance trying to defend itself.

Oedipus’s expiration was caused simply because of his arrogance and his

lack of self knowledge. He didn’t understand himself well enough. He could

unravel any mystery besides

Oliver 3 his own existence.

All of his life Oedipus had solved mysteries and puzzles about

subjects other than himself. Now that he was faced with riddles accusing

him of something, his own arrogance kept him from the truth. Oedipus would

have solved Tiresias’s riddles instantaneously if it weren’t for his pride,

and lack of insight.

Finally, the truth is forced on Oedipus with outstanding evidence,

presented by the messenger, and the shepherd, so he must accept his

destiny. Was he not able to solve Tiresias’s riddles because his arrogance

wouldn’t allow him to, or did he recognize the answers immediately, his

vanity not allowing him to acknowledge the truth?


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