Oedipus

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In Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Oedipus is a man who exemplifies the typical tyrannical leader of ancient times. A man blind to the path his questions take him on. Oedipus is a character dominated by strong emotions, and it is the way in which he negotiates his feelings and reacts to information uncovered that makes Oedipus a legendary cautionary tale in literature. The famous stoic Seneca wrote his own version of Oedipus a few hundred years after Sophocles’ Oedipus. The tale remains the same yet we see an incredible change in the character of Oedipus. Seneca’s stoic roots give us an Oedipus that is far more in touch with emotions and his thought process. Sophocles shows us a man that believes he can solve any problem with a firm hand and a swift response, a man that is ignorant to many facts and signs that foretell of his guilt. Seneca’s Oedipus probes the people that bring him information, slowly putting together a picture of his guilt that he begins to actually suspect. It is the fear and great anxiety caused by each daunting question that give Seneca’s Oedipus a far greater characterization of a man. We see Sophocles’ Oedipus violently and arduously cursing the old King’s killer, putting a plague upon any whom may even unknowingly shelter him. At the first whisper that he himself is the murderer he seeks Oedipus lashes out, enraged and paranoid, instantly suggesting collusion between Teiresias and Creon. Teiresias is carful not to divulge much information at first for fear of the King’s reproach. Oedipus quickly looses his patience with Teiresias, accusing him of the crime himself, “Thou methinks thou art he, Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it too, All save the assassination; and if thouHadst not been blind, I had been sworn to boot That thou alone didst do the bloody deed.” He stubbornly ignores the evidence his line of questioning bears, even when it becomes clear to his wife Jocaste. Teiresias finally gives Oedipus the answer he


Cited: "OEDIPUS, TRANSLATED BY FRANK JUSTUS MILLER." Classical E-Text: SENECA, OEDIPUS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. http://www.theoi.com/Text/SenecaOedipus.html

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