The sight of blindness

From reading some of the other blogs I wonder if I was the only one who had this reading as their first exposure to Oedipus in any light. Sure, I had heard the name Oedipus but had no other context surrounding this book. I (happily) found this to be an easy read after Plato, and was grateful for the guidance from Greek prophecies that seem to add a simplicity to these books.

It is always strange and interesting to see how the prophecies are fulfilled, and of how for Oedipus the road to hell was paved with good intentions. In an attempt to save the lives and honor of the people he believed to be his parents, he ends up doing the opposite and causing more pain for himself and others. There are constant references to how Oedipus is a man destined to suffer, similar to Odysseus and of how his name was said to foretell a future of pain and hardship. Oedipus was not the only one who tried to avoid his fate (and pain), Jocasta had tried to avoid the entire situation by sending him away to be killed soon after birth, only for someone to take pity on him as a child and spare him. Even the messenger tries to soothe Oedipus’ qualms by informing him of his untrue, perceived birthright.  Is this then fate? Is fate what happens even when a person has good intentions and induces their own suffering to avoid other’s? For me, Odysseus had done things that brought on his fate while Oedipus had been trying to avoid harming others and is much less selfish. It seems that through everyone’s good intentions they all suffer as a consequence.

Another aspect that stuck out was the use of sight and irony throughout the book. Oedipus declares that the people need not fear because they have him to fight for them, while he was (unknowingly) the cause of all of their troubles. Looking back, it is the instant in which Oedipus promises to find the murderer that he also begins a journey to discover who his parents were. He makes repeated comments of how his greatest wish is to look his parents in the eye, something he has been doing for a long time without knowing. With this in mind, his self blinding seems incredibly ironic because he was already blind to the truth of his history. It almost seems as if he can’t bare the burden of fully seeing reality, and that he needs to blind in at least one form to continue living.



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