Image

Oedipus Rex

Oedipus the King, as it is also called, is a tragic play first performed around the time period of 429 BC. Composed by Sophocles, it was the first in a trilogy of historical chronology, followed by two more pieces, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. This story depicts the life of a prophecy fulfilling man who becomes the King of Thebes and unknowingly completing several gruesome acts as they were stated in a prophecy made by an oracle.

The Character

Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta and the king was informed by an oracle that he would be killed by his son because of the gruesome acts that he committed previously. Upon hearing this the king instructed his servants to kill the child, which was not accomplished as Oedipus was then raised by the king of Corinth, who was childless at the time. Being raised entirely as the son of the King of Corinth, he had no idea that his parents were not his biological parents, so when told by an oracle that he was destined to kill his father and marry his mother, he fled the kingdom to avoid this.

The Prophecy

Upon leaving his home, he traveled a road in his chariot, upon which he encountered another man, also on a chariot heading in the opposite direction. An argument ensued and there was a struggle, during which Oedipus killed the other man, who turned out to be his biological father, King Laius. He had now fulfilled the first part of the prophecy. After this encounter, he goes on to challenge the Sphinx, correctly solving the riddle and as a result, freeing the kingdom of Thebes from her curse. He was rewarded with the kingship and the queen’s hand in marriage, who also happened to be his biological mother. The two parts of the prophecy have now been fulfilled and no one knows the truth.

This story shows how one’s own act to prevent an eventually may be the very action that causes it to happen in the first place. We can never trust what we hear or know neither can we truly control our destiny. It also shows how another person can greatly influence our actions because of what they said, or how they said it. In all, our perception of reality may be nothing more than an illusion, holding only as much substance as the idea that defines it.