Oedipus the King – Julian Figueroa’s first impressions

Medea was a thrill and Oedipus has a lot in store for us as well.  This is a great play, also akin to Medea in its dialogue and its conflicts in the monarchy.

A terrible curse/plague has befallen Thebes, and great King Oedipus sends Creon (his brother in law) to seek the advice of Apollo. He alerts Oedipus that the curse will be forsaken if the murderer of Laius, the former king, is found and prosecuted. So, Oedipus then sets off to find and prosecute of Laius’s murderer. Oedipus interrogates a bunch of uncooperative citizens, including a blind prophet, Teiresias. Teiresias informs Oedipus that Oedipus himself killed Laius.  His wife Jocasta tells him not to believe in the prophets since they’ve been wrong before. As an example, she tells Oedipus about how she and King Laius had a son who was prophesied to kill Laius and sleep with her. Well, she and Laius had the child killed, so that prophecy clearly didn’t work out so well…

This doesn’t really pacify Oedipus in any way… As a child, an old man told Oedipus that he was adopted, and that he would eventually kill his biological father and sleep with his biological mother.  Jocasta presures him not to look into the past any further, but he  ignores her. Oedipus goes on to question a messenger and a shepherd, both of whom have information about how Oedipus was abandoned as an infant and adopted by a new family. In a moment of insight, Jocasta realizes that she is Oedipus’s mother and that Laius was his father. Horrified at what has happened, she kills herself. Shortly thereafter, Oedipus also realizes that he was Laius’s murderer and that he’s been married to his mother. In horror and shock (not to mention despair…), he gouges his eyes out and is exiled from Thebes.

My first impression of Oedipus was that he was a powerful man that would get everything that he wanted. I thought that he would prove as a strong leader and be able to overcome any conflict. He actually seemed like a friend in the sense that he would protect every body. Apparently not the case.

I really enjoyed how the whole idea of sight/blindness played into the story. The prophet, Teiresias, is blind… yet can still see (the future). And Oedipus, frightened by the reality, the predicted future, blinds himself so that he does not have to witness it. Some very cool imagery indeed.

I’d definitely read this again.

Oedipus the King

I was expecting a lot of things from this play, mainly because I had always heard a lot of it, but I had never actually read it. After reading it, I could see what made it such a classic Greek literature, yet I really didn’t enjoy reading it. The way Oedipus is just working away to his own destruction was pretty disturbing to me. The amount of dramatic irony in this play is ridiculous, and it was a bit too much for me. While I knew the story before I read it, the amount of dramatic irony just made it difficult for me to expect any surprises while reading. I knew Oedipus was going to have to find out eventually, and that being the hero of the story, he would punish himself.

I found that for the first time in our reading list, Oedipus is the first “hero” with which I didn’t have a very strong connection with. While I definitely pitied him, and felt sorry for him, I had difficulty relating or connecting with Oedipus. Particularly in certain parts, like when he picks on the blind beggar. While of course those parts are important to foreshadow, and add to the irony (of which there’s already plenty of), I felt like it made Oedipus inconsistent as a character, especially when as a king he is so adamant about righteousness and justice.

While the play is definitely a tragedy, I don’t feel like it is a traditional tragedy. This play is a tragedy from the very beginning, with absolutely no deviation or opportunity to surprise the reader. It essentially felt like I was just waiting for Oedipus to realize what we all knew the entire time. This isn’t a tragedy which is able to connect the reader to a pair of star-crossed lovers, before their tragic deaths ensue. This tragedy instead is one in which the reader simply knows everything, and just waits until the hero punishes himself. This tragedy wasn’t exactly tragic for me, while I definitely felt bad for Oedipus who constantly works away to his own demise I never felt remotely sad. Perhaps the only tragic part of the play is how cruel Oedipus’s punishment to himself is.

While I’m sitting here, bashing the play about not being tragic enough, I think it’s important to recognize how Sophocles most likely had a very different definition of “tragedy” than we do today. In the modern era, we have many defining archetypal tragedies like Romeo and Juliet which set the standard for what to expect form a tragedy. Sophocles had none of these classics to guide him in his writing, in fact, Sophocles is very probably ahead of his time. While I recognize how fantastic this piece of literature is, I was still disappointed by my expectations set by our modern definition of tragedies.

Thoughts On Oedipus

I had read Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in 11th grade, so I already knew what to expect, but this was a good refresher of the terrible tragedy that it is. Even though he might have a bit of a temper, Oedipus was undeservedly doomed from the very beginning. The chances that he would have ended up murdering his father and sharing a bed with his mother, even after being removed far away from his home were incredibly low. But, it was in fact fate that it ended up occurring, so the only way that Laius and Jocasta could’ve prevented it would have been to ensure that baby Oedipus was actually killed. The idea of a terrible fate or a prophecy is frustrating in terms of a story such as this because you know that no matter what, the prophecy will be fulfilled in the end.

An interesting irony in the story was the fact that Teiresias, the blind oracle, was able to see more clearly than Oedipus was able to. Oedipus was blind to the fact that he did in fact kill his father, and refused to listen to the oracle because of how silly it all seemed to him. At the same time, Oedipus likely had an idea in the back of his head that what Teiresias was saying was in fact true, which is why it angered him so much.

These Greek tragedies are outlandish and unfortunate in every way. They are definitely interesting reads, but they don’t seem to have any sort of resolution at the end or include any moral teachings. It seems more like that messed up things occur, and everyone (or almost everyone) is either dead or emotionally distraught by the end of the stories. I look forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts on the story, and I am also very glad that we are moving on from the Greek tragedy in the upcoming weeks.

Thoughts on the Republic

I apologize for the extremely late post, these blogs completely slipped my mind in the midst of midterms.

The Republic by Plato was an extremely difficult and occasionally boring read in my opinion. It was necessary to re-read certain passages multiple times in order to fully grasp the concepts and ideas that Plato (via the voice of Socrates) was trying to get across. After finally plowing through the book I felt a great sense of satisfaction because I was able to tackle such a thought-provoking text while still feeling that I understood all or most of the concepts. What I found extremely intriguing was Plato’s critique of democracy which ran through the entire discussion. Instead of allowing for personal freedom and movement between social classes like in a democracy, Plato emphasized the importance of functionality and specialization. By having each person in society perform the task that their natural abilities were suited to, a society would be extremely efficient and would minimize any wasted potential. In a modern democracy, many people are unemployed, or work at jobs that they are not very good at. If we were all placed in occupations that we are good at, then things would run extremely smoothly, like when he said,

“better-quality goods are more easily produced if each person does one thing for which he is naturally suited, does it at the right time, and is released from having to do any of the others”

I also found the idea of preventing rulers from handling currency or owning private property very interesting, because that would clearly limit a lot of political corruption, which is a huge issue in our modern day societies. Not that I am against personal freedom, or democracy, but reading The Republic really swayed me to agree with a lot of Plato’s arguments about how we could improve on our own society. This book definitely got me thinking about things differently in general, and I really enjoyed being able to discuss the concepts with our Arts One class.

Oedipus the King

So this read was definitely easier than Plato, that’s for sure. I also enjoyed this play particularly more as well. This was a kind of book that really made me sympathize for the characters in many ways. Talking about the play as a whole, I really enjoyed this. To further elaborate, I find these twisted, yet short tragic plays to be very interesting. I greatly enjoyed Medea, so this play was definitely one that grabbed my interest instantly.

It’s somewhat tragic, and depressing, since Oedipus starts out as such a well respected, praised king. He doesn’t expect the death of King Laius to come back to him in any way in the end, yet it does. I found this read interesting because I thought that it was somewhat surprising. As a reader, I did not expect Oedipus to be responsible for his father’s death, or engage in incest with his mother.

Quickly into the play, I noticed Oedipus’ quick fall from grace. Essentially, his life just disintegrates into disastrous chaos, and there isn’t really anything he can do to fix it. I also thought that it was really unfortunate how he happened to kill his own father. It could have been anyone on that dividing road, yet it happened to be King Laius himself. I also got the sense of Oedipus being unable to avoid his fate. In a sense, it is ironic, because at the beginning of the play, he is so adamant on finding who it was that killed their late king, and killing him instantly. The fact that Oedipus had absolutely no idea that the murderer is he himself, makes you sympathize for him. All he wanted to was to be a good leader, though little did he know that everything would be taken away from him.

As the play came to a close, I also noticed the love he feels for his daughters, which I initially did not realize. In the end of the play, he states that his sons are free to go on their own, and are capable of leading their own lives. However, he demonstrates this fear for his daughters’ well being—showing his love and concern for them. I found this quite interesting, because I was under the impression that in the Greek world, sons were of more importance and value, but Oedipus goes against that in this play, and reveals the love and compassion he has for all of his children, not just his sons.

All in all, I thought this was a very good read.

Oedipus the King

Oedipus is a name I have been familiar with because of the term “Oedipus complex,” which describes an incestuous relationship between mother and son. I had always just assumed that the two had been involved knowingly and it was also interesting to learn that Oedipus was the guy who figured out the Sphinx’s riddle, another tale I have known for a while. Oedipus the King is the tragic story of Oedipus, who has become a hero and acquired the Theban throne after solving the riddle of the Sphinx. What was interesting to me was how fate played in this tale. Fate played a big role and, one could say, was the antagonist of the play. It intrigued me how fate always managed to catch up to everyone no matter how hard they try to avoid it, Which was shown through Oedipus running away from his fate of killing his father and coupling with his mother, only to find that he stayed away from his adopted parents while his real parents, who tried to get rid of him in fear of the same fate, suffered at the hand of fate. Another part that stuck out to me was the extreme measures the characters went to after they found out the whole story and looked at the big picture. I honestly had to read the paragraph were Oedipus stabbed out his sight with a broach to check if I was reading about the same guy who had no qualm about exiling his brother-in-law/uncle. Spoiler alert. So while I thought I was going to get a Nero-like tale, I was still surprised at many revelations that we make earlier on and seeing how each character figures it out and reacts. Much like a horror movie in the same sense as you have feelings similar to when a movie character decides to do the obvious.

            Monsters in this play I felt couldn’t be labeled. Pretty much every named character in Oedipus the King is a monster. Including fate.

            I am excited for the lecture and would like to understand more. Hopefully I did not read anything the wrong way. I didn’t really understand some of the historical context and hopefully it will be addressed.

Oedipus The King

Ah, the irony. This was one of those books that makes you cringe a little as you read, and shake your head in sympathy for the characters. Oedipus starts out so well, as valiant king who’s determined to save his city. But it all just disintegrates into a tragic mess when the murder and incest are revealed. Oedipus blinding himself with needles is a fairly effective way of conveying his complete and utter pain. I couldn’t help but note the role of the messenger, who describes these events to the chorus. In Medea, we also see a messenger describing the fairly gruesome moments of the play. I wonder if these were simply moments that would have been too much of a hassle to act out, or if they would have been thought to be too unpleasant.

The idea of fate being inescapable is a fairly prominent theme in the play, and I can’t help wonder how things would have played out if Oedipus had grown up with his real parents. Of course though, that’s a thought that goes in useless circles, as that’s simply not how the play went. However, there is something to be said on the inescapabilty of fate, and the implied lesson that the prophesy should have merely been accepted, despite the complete lack of explanation for it’s existence.

This brings up the slightly confusing topic of justice. The play began with the strong certainty that justice must be served, and he who killed Laius would be punished. However, if Laius died purely because of a prophecy, what justice is there in punishing the vessel through which it was carried out? And I was also thinking, though I could be completely off track, was it implied that Laius trying to avoid the prophesy is what ultimately brought about the tragedy? Would he perhaps have been spared if he’d accepted his fate? These riddles and prophecies certainly make for very intriguing plays.


Before reading this play I already had an idea about it from comments and readings from my Greek myth class. However the real play itself was astonishing and rather tragic. Sophocles wrote a play where a man is destroyed because of things which were out of his control. While the play also has the idea that all prophecies come true, and for the Greek’s this idea probably stemmed from the idea that what their gods said would definitely happen – I think that the reason the prophecy of Oedipus was true is because his father believed it to be true and acted on the prophecy. If his father hadn’t gotten scared about what his son would do later on in life he would not have sent him away with the shepherd to die in the woods, instead the only reason Oedipus missed out on a childhood with his real parents (and an adult life which DID not involve incest and patricide) is because his father basically, and without knowing, orchestrated the whole tragedy.

In Greek mythology the idea of the son killing (or taking away the masculinity) the father is not a strange idea. Cronus castrated his father and Zeus then defeated Cronus and became king of the earth and heavens. Oedipus in killing his father was not exactly out of sync with much of Greek’s societies ideas and religion. However what really puts him over the edge from tragic hero to just a disaster is the fact that he, unknowingly, marries his mother. The sad part about all of this is that he truly had no idea, and the only reason all of this came to light was because of his curiosity. Jocasta warns him not to try and find out the truth and yet he does not listen, if he had listened to her he might have died not knowing, or perhaps found out but in a less public way. Also the way the chorus, or the people, act towards Oedipus is saddening. At first they vow to stand behind him no matter what and are proud of him and then suddenly when the truth comes out they turn against him, the reject him from society. If Oedipus had only unknowingly killed his father then the crowd would have forgiven him or moved on from it, siting Zeus and Cronus, but the only fact of this novel that people focus on is the fact that he married Jocasta. However the play is about more than that, it is about prophecies and people causing them to come true even though if they had just left it all alone nothing would have happened (similar to Lord Voldemort, if he had not heard the prophecy about Harry then he would have never tried to kill him and if he hadn’t tried to kill him he would never have created the only person alive who could defeat him). Lauis created his own tragedy.

Oedipus Rex: Arrogance is Blindness

These short, twisted, tragic plays really are brilliant. First Medea, then Oedipus The King. After a meandering doctrine such as Plato’s, I sometimes feel like I get just as much (albeit very differently) from Sophocles, in less than 100 pages.

Although Oedipus Rex is it’s own distinct play, i’ve started to notice a number of similar themes running through the Greek tragedies. I suppose this is not too surprising, considering the way in which all these playwrights had convened under similar laws and times. However it’s still interesting to note recurring ideas. They all seem to gain a more worldy significance. Anyway, a prominent one is the dramatic shift from greatness to pitiful shame and general awfulness. Just like Medea or Jason, Oedipus begins as a self regarding person, in this case a king, with a history of pride and power. (killing a whole caravan because one fellow hit him with a staff.) He presents himself as caring about his citizens and willing to do anything for their well-being. When blamed for a murder, however, he is quick to put fault on anyone else. Even though he doesn’t know his crime, he runs on the assumption that he cannot, could not ever be wrong. It must be somebody else.

Like Medea, and like a vast amount of other stories, there is also some clever commentary on the state of mankind. There is a line on page 215 that I read over more than once. “What should a man fear? It’s all chance, chance rules our lives… better to live ate random.” This connotes to the cliche, modern day saying of “things happen”, but something about this play being written in the 400′s BC gives it some added weight. This develops into what was my favorite part of the play: grappling with the idea of fate and destiny. Part of the play seems to be saying you can’t escape it. Despite out best intentions, fate will play out just as it has been prophesized. But there is something a bit more subtle that is even more interesting. I may be misled, but the ideas of fate and ones own actions, ones free will, seem to be blended together in what I feel is an important way. Oedipus is given choices, and his arrogance drives him to make the “wrong” decisions. These decisions lead to utter ruin. Is Sophocles saying that our arrogance is what, in the end makes us blind? When Oedipus stabbed his eyes out at the end, I think Sophocles was simply making a metaphor real, making sure we really got it. I think Sophocles is saying that arrogance and power can make one “blind.”



After diligently reading and earmarking potential quotes from the three Theban plays, I discovered that we were only supposed to read one of them. Fabulous.

Anyway, Oedipus the King, tied with Colonus as the play with the least earmarked quotes, has a different format to it as opposed to other plots with prophecies hanging over them like black signboards dyed in the stink of a convenient gimmick. In this play, the prophesized individual does not learn about his “destiny” until after he’s already fulfilled it, which in my opinion is a much better way to go about it if the writer is for some inexplicable reason compelled to add that kind of stink to the plot. Because of this, Oedipus does not suffer self-fulfilling prophecy syndrome, nor did he constantly second-guess himself about whether his fate is his own and all that annoying angst when he was doing the Sphinx’s puzzle (I didn’t read that so I could be wrong). Of course, I know that I’m looking at this from the viewpoint of a modern reader; fate back then was completely tied to the gods, so plays about prophecies in that era were simply tools to solidify people’s trust in divine power.

The concept of prophecies aside, the prophecy itself in this play is a rather peculiar one. First of all, Oedipus’ father did suffer from self-fulfilling prophecy syndrome, as his choice to throw Oedipus off the cliff was what led to his eventual death at the hands of his son. Secondly, I am still unsure whether or not Oedipus’ mother knew what she was doing when she married her son—she seemed to me to have been hiding it from him until it couldn’t be hidden anymore, after which she promptly committed suicide. I’m not absolutely sure that she wasn’t actually just refusing to see the truth herself, however, though I suspect that I’d get a better idea if I read the play involving her first meeting with adult Oedipus. Finally, Oedipus’ reaction when he learned about the prophecy and his connection to it was, to put it mildly, not a happy one. He cursed everything about himself and ripped out his eyes in his self-hatred, moving straight past normal angst and into absolute angst. What made this play interesting to me, however, was what happened after that (in Colonus, which we weren’t supposed to read but whatever). Oedipus, after going through his cycle of turmoil, actually leaves it and attempts to get his life back together. The prophecy of doom is fulfilled, despaired at, and finally…accepted. Killing his father, marrying his mother, and ripping out his eyes wasn’t the end for Oedipus. Instead, there was a whole other play after that depicting him as an almost mystic figure who (ironically) had the power to give prophecies that were always right. His end was described as quite a spectacular sight as well, showing perhaps that even after suffering such pain and anguish, it is possible to attain redemption and a decent end.