The Theban plays taught ancient Greeks that there were four things that should be learned and lived by in order to be a good person and a good leader. The chorus outlined these things in the last lines of "Antigone" (pg 162). According to the chorus, Of happiness the crown
And chiefest part
Is wisdom, and to hold
The gods in awe.
This is the law
That, seeing the stricken heart
Of pride brought down,
We learn when we are old.
These lines simply put, state that wisdom is good, reverence for the gods is necessary, pride is bad, and fate is inevitable, and in order to be a good you had to follow these rules. The chorus says that the punishing blows of fate will eventually teach men wisdom. Sophocles tried to stress these four lessons throughout the Theban plays.
Although Oedipus was wise, he was also rash and quick to act, and when combined, these made Oedipus a man of swift action and great insight. These have both positive and negative qualities. On one hand, Oedipus was a great ruler capable of anticipating the people's needs. An example of this is in the beginning of "Oedipus the King" when the people of Thebes ask him to do something about the plague and he has already sent Creon to Delphi. (pg 26) However, on the other hand, Oedipus' rashness shows when he was telling the story of killing the travelers that attempted to overpower him at the crossroads between Corinth and Thebes, a story that never would have came out had Oedipus not lost his temper. All of this shows that wisdom can be a very powerful tool, especially when coupled with insight and swift actions, but it also shows us how it must be balanced with self-control.
The chorus' second "life lesson" was that reverence for the gods was necessary, and even then fate was inescapable. Oedipus seemingly paid tribute to the gods and respected them, but his rashness and the bad choices he made were enough to seal his destiny, even before he was born. Sophocles used this to try and...