Role of Seers or Prophets in Sophocles' Tragedies.

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"We cannot believe, we cannot deny; all is dark."(King Oedipus, pg. 39) Throughout the tragedies of Sophocles there are seers and prophets and the resolution of whether to believe their predictions or to disregard them. This internal struggle of belief causes the prophets to play a major role in the outcome of events in both King Oedipus and Antigone. In the two tragedies by Sophocles there are prophets made and the characters who hear them are torn. "My heart is torn in two. Its hard to give way, and hard to stand abide…… Both ways are hard."(Antigone, pg. 155) The characters are unsure of whether to believe what they have been told or to disregard it as a feeble attempt for the prophets to "seek their own advantage." (Antigone, pg. 154)

In the play King Oedipus, a major prophet is made that shapes the entire outcome of events. Laius was warned by an oracle that his own son would kill him and that he would marry his mother, Jocasta. Determined to reverse this fate, Laius bound his newborn son's feet and sent a shepherd away with him with instructions to leave the child to die on the mountain of Cithaeron. This shows how much effect the prophets really have over the characters.

However, Oedipus did not die. The shepherd who was supposed to place Oedipus on the mountain felt sympathy and he passed the child into the hands of a Shepard who then passed Oedipus on to the shepherd in Corinth so that the child may be raised as a prince of Corinth.

As the play progresses Oedipus grows up with his "adopted" parents but later he hears of a prophet that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Hearing this, Oedipus fled from home, never to return. Again we see how much influence the seers have on the outcome of events. It was on this journey away from home, which would take Oedipus to Thebes; he was confronted and harassed by a group of travelers, whom he killed in self-defense. The group of travelers was none other than Laius and his companions and when...
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