The Downfall of Oedipus

Topics: Oedipus, Delphi, Greek mythology Pages: 5 (779 words) Published: October 10, 2013
In most Greek myths, there is usually a story behind why terrible accidents are happening

and why the Gods are targeting somebody with tragedies. Alternatively, in Oedipus the King,

there is no apparent reason why the Oracle involves Oedipus and leads him on a trail of

misfortunes. Some say it is to illustrate that the Gods had superiority over the mortals; others

might argue that Oedipus somehow offended the Gods, and this was their “payback” on him.

This leads to the ongoing argument about Oedipus living a life of fate, or in due course dooming

himself. Even though the Oracle warned Oedipus of his inevitable fate as a murderer to his father

and incest with his mother, in the end Oedipus ultimately dooms himself.

To start with, one could argue that Oedipus brought his downfall upon himself by

running away from Corinth after a drunken man tells him he is a bastard child and going to the

Oracle to learn the truth. The Oracle tells him that he will kill his father and lay with his mother,

so Oedipus, thinking that Polybus and Merobe are his real parents, flees from Corinth and goes

to Thebes. Instead of fleeing Corinth, Oedipus could have confronted Polybus and Merobe and

asked if he was truly a bastard child. If he would have asked them, then he would have learned

the story of how he was adopted and how Merobe and Polybus are not his real parents and this

would have prevented him from completing the Oracle. Instead, Oedipus acts impetuously, and

got himself into more trouble than what was needed to begin with.

Next, Oedipus dooms himself by killing his father, Lauis, and laying with his

mother, Jocasta, and therefore completing the Oracle. When Oedipus learns that he will kill his

father and lay with his mother from the Delphic Oracle and flees to Thebes, he meets a king in a

coach at a crossroad on the way to Thebes. He gets driven off the road, and becomes angered and

kills everybody except a messenger who flees the area and becomes a shepherd. This was a

mistake for many reasons. First, if Oedipus knew that the Oracle said he would kill his father, he

should not of killed anybody, yet alone somebody that was old enough to be his father. When

Oedipus becomes the king of Thebes, he makes his next mistake by laying with Jocasta. Again,

if Oedipus knew that the Oracle said that he would lay with his mother, why would he lay with

any woman, especially a woman that was older than him and could possibly be his mother?

These may have seemed like minor actions to Oedipus at the time, but if he was truly cautious

about the Oracle, then he would have never done those things. When Jocasta delivers the news

to Oedipus that Lauis, her husband was killed by a man at a crossroads, Oedipus becomes scared

that it was him who killed Lauis, but when a messenger from Corinth arrives saying that Polybus

has died, Oedipus become relieved because he still believes that Polybus is his biological father.

It is not until later events that Oedipus learns of the real truth.

Finally, Oedipus’s pride and stubbornness gets in the way of his decision making

skills at many points throughout the story, and this is yet another example of Oedipus dooming

himself. When Oedipus is conversing with Teiresias, he accuses him of murdering Lauis.

Teiresias then tells Oedipus that he is all-knowing, and tells him that the Oracle is about him.

Oedipus brushes this comment of and lets his pride stand in the way, and instead pushes all the

blame to Creon, who is Jocasta’s brother for trying to overthrow himself to become king himself.

It seems that Oedipus cannot accept the fact that he is the one on the Oracle, and by pushing the

blame off of him and putting it on other people, he is just making the situation worse.

All in all, Even though the Oracle warned Oedipus of his inevitable fate as a murderer to...
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