Medea was a thrill and Oedipus has a lot in store for us as well. This is a great play, also akin to Medea in its dialogue and its conflicts in the monarchy.
A terrible curse/plague has befallen Thebes, and great King Oedipus sends Creon (his brother in law) to seek the advice of Apollo. He alerts Oedipus that the curse will be forsaken if the murderer of Laius, the former king, is found and prosecuted. So, Oedipus then sets off to find and prosecute of Laius’s murderer. Oedipus interrogates a bunch of uncooperative citizens, including a blind prophet, Teiresias. Teiresias informs Oedipus that Oedipus himself killed Laius. His wife Jocasta tells him not to believe in the prophets since they’ve been wrong before. As an example, she tells Oedipus about how she and King Laius had a son who was prophesied to kill Laius and sleep with her. Well, she and Laius had the child killed, so that prophecy clearly didn’t work out so well…
This doesn’t really pacify Oedipus in any way… As a child, an old man told Oedipus that he was adopted, and that he would eventually kill his biological father and sleep with his biological mother. Jocasta presures him not to look into the past any further, but he ignores her. Oedipus goes on to question a messenger and a shepherd, both of whom have information about how Oedipus was abandoned as an infant and adopted by a new family. In a moment of insight, Jocasta realizes that she is Oedipus’s mother and that Laius was his father. Horrified at what has happened, she kills herself. Shortly thereafter, Oedipus also realizes that he was Laius’s murderer and that he’s been married to his mother. In horror and shock (not to mention despair…), he gouges his eyes out and is exiled from Thebes.
My first impression of Oedipus was that he was a powerful man that would get everything that he wanted. I thought that he would prove as a strong leader and be able to overcome any conflict. He actually seemed like a friend in the sense that he would protect every body. Apparently not the case.
I really enjoyed how the whole idea of sight/blindness played into the story. The prophet, Teiresias, is blind… yet can still see (the future). And Oedipus, frightened by the reality, the predicted future, blinds himself so that he does not have to witness it. Some very cool imagery indeed.
I’d definitely read this again.