Oedipous Rex vs. the Odyssey

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Heroism and Hell

    Oedipus and Odysseus are two of many widely recognized characters known for their outstanding, and, at times, tragic stories. The Odyssey, by Homer, is an Epic poem about the great journey of Odysseus and his perilous journey home to Ithaca. Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, is a Greek play about Oedipus’ self-discovery and fulfillment of a prophecy in which he hopes to avoid. While the stories share many similarities and qualities, they also reveal significant differences in their journeys and outcome.     Oedipus and Odysseus share many similarities; they are both respected leaders and known for great triumphs. Throughout the story of Oedipus, we learn that he is a great king of Thebes. He has promised the kingdom’s people to lift the plague that has struck Thebes and the reader is reminded that he solved the riddle of the sphinx and became king: “But I came, Oedipus, who knew nothing, and I stopped her. I solved the riddle by my wit alone” (ll 435-437, p 629).  As for Odysseus, he is the known as the great king of Ithaca and praised by the Phaeacians as he shares his story of his epic journey, “twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy” (ll 1-3, p 259). He is known for his accomplishments at Troy and as one of the few Greek heroes to enter and survive the underworld. Oedipus and Odysseus share this similarity of greatness as well as an underlying chaos that burdens them throughout their stories.     Both Oedipus and Odysseus’ stories are introduced amidst chaos that they contend with for the duration of their journeys. The story of Oedipus begins with the return of Creon, bringing news from the Oracle on how to rid of the plague that taints Thebes: “By banishing a man, or expiation of blood by blood, since it is murder guilt which holds our city in this destroying storm” (ll 114-116, p 621). Oedipus promises Thebes’ citizens to find the king’s murderer and punish him properly,...
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