Power Of The Gods Essay, Research Paper
The Power of the Gods
In the play, Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, Oedipus is rewarded king of Thebes when he frees the city from death by correctly answering a riddle by the deadly Sphinx.
You came to Cadmus city and unbound
the tax we had to pay to the harsh singer,
did it without a helpful word from us,
with no instruction; with a god s assistance
you raised up our life, so we believe.
The play begins with begs and pleads by the priest of Zeus who speaks for the Theban people. The priest discloses that the city is plagued with hunger and death. He goes to Oedipus, believing that he can save the city as he once did before. Oedipus is aware of the problem the city is faced with, and has already sent his brother-in-law, Creon to Apollo s oracle so he can learn what may be done to save the city. He understands the power of the gods and will do what the gods wish. “But when he comes, then I shall be a traitor if I do not do all that god reveals.” During this time, Oedipus is unaware that he is closely approaching his downfall, as the truth of his sins later reveal a disgusting, horrible, and tragic realization about himself. The discovery of the truths leads Oedipus with hideous feelings. He learns in the end how fragile man is before the power of the gods.
Phoebus Apollo is a god of prophecy, who once told Oedipus that he would become a lover to his mother, have her children and murder his own father. Oedipus thought he could free himself from the oracle and remain above his own destiny. He flees his city, Corinth, to avoid murdering his father, Polybus and having sexual relations with his mother, Merop .
When I heard this, and ever since, I gauged
the way to Corinth by the stars alone,
running to a place where I would never see
the disgrace in the oracle s words come true.
Oedipus does not realize he is heading straight to meet the destiny he thought he was preventing.
During his journey to flee Corinth, Oedipus encounters two men riding on a carriage who try to violently force him off the road. Eventually the battle ends in a fatal brawl. Oedipus recounts killing all men on that road before he proceeds on the journey to Thebes. In Thebes, Oedipus frees the city of the Sphinx by answering her riddle. He is rewarded throne and the marriage of the widowed Jocasta. They later produce two daughters named Antigone and Ismene.
Although Oedipus frees the city in the beginning, he is challenged to do it again. Creon s news from the gods is that in order to cure the city of plague, the person responsible for killing the former husband and King Laius must be murdered. Oedipus, having fate in the gods, will do exactly what the gods demand. He is determined to discover who the man is so that he can put an end to the horrible curse granted upon Thebes.
Later in the play, Jocasta reveals that she had a son with her late husband, Laius. The oracle of the gods foretold Laius that their son would kill Lauis, marry Jocasta and have children with her. Upon hearing this, Laius mutilated his son s feet and then sent him to Mount Cithaeron where he was to be killed so the oracle of the gods would never come true. The son, however, was never killed. He was given to Polybus and Merop , who raised the newborn and made him believe in the upcoming years that he was their own.
In the climax of the play, Oedipus learns the truth that Polybus and Merop are not his birth parents. He realizes that the oracles of Apollo were accurate. Jocasta is his actual birth mother and among the men he killed on the road, Laius, was his birth father. He realizes that he, who was once the savior of Thebes, is now the cause of the plague brought upon the city. Oedipus lacked the knowledge and truth about himself. He learns that through his sins, the city of Thebes has been paying the penalty.
In the beginning, Oedipus is blind to the truth and feels that something needs to be clarified. When he discovers the truth about himself and after he finds Jocasta hanging lifelessly, he punctures both his eyes. His blindness is illuminated by the light of truth. He sends himself to darkness. Oedipus is unable to endure the reality of his existence.
He shouted that they would no longer see
the evils he had suffered or had done,
see in the dark those he should not have seen,
and know no more those he once south to know.
Ultimately, Oedipus attitude towards the gods throughout the play is ambiguous. In the beginning of the play, he praises and has great fate in the gods. “Our luck will prosper if the god is with us, or we have already fallen.” (145, pp. 1258) In the play, when Oedipus conceals that he fled Corinth to escape the oracles of the gods, it becomes apparent that his feelings towards the gods is unclear. It is very ironic that Oedipus thought he was able to overcome the oracle of the gods and then later depend on the fate of the gods to resolve Thebe s problem.
At the end of the play, Oedipus learns that he is powerless against the gods. He tried to escape what Apollo said would happen to him in the future. He developed an arrogant attitude that was ironically illusory – solver and killer of the Sphinx, king of the city. I strongly believe that his attitude acted like a protection against the truth. He probably believed that the gods assisted him in overcoming the sphinx. Both Laius and Oedipus tried to prevent the oracles from occurring. In doing this act, Oedipus learns that the gods are laughing at him. He or no man can fool the gods, for the gods are the most powerful beings. In conclusion, the gods that Oedipus may have thought helped him free a city from the sphinx was now his enemy. “But I am the gods most hated man!” (1527, pp. 1293)