Prophecy in Oedipus Rex
Prophecy is a central part of Oedipus the King. The play begins with Creon's return from the oracle at Delphi, where he has learned that the plague will be lifted if Thebes banishes the man who killed Laius. Tiresias prophesies the capture of one who is both father and brother to his own children. Oedipus tells Jocasta of a prophecy he heard as a youth, that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, and Jocasta tells Oedipus of a similar prophecy given to Laius, that her son would grow up to kill his father. Oedipus and Jocasta debate the extent to which prophecies should be trusted at all, and when all of the prophecies come true, it appears that one of Sophocles' aims is to justify the powers of the gods and prophets.
When he was a young man in Corinth, Oedipus went to Pytho, to ask Phoebus whether it was true that he was a bastard, as he had heard from a drunk.
When he got there, however, he was not to hear the answer to his question. Instead he was told that he was destined to sleep with his mother, and murder his father. When he ran from this prophecy, he ran straight to Thebes, straight into the arms of his fate. Desperately running away from his fate, he in fact fulfilled it unknowingly. As various facts came to light, he slowly began to realize the possibility that he had murdered Laius, his wife's dead husband. It was not until it was impossible for him to avoid that he finally faced the fact that he had been adopted in Corinth, and that his true parents were Laius and Jocasta. He had, as he suddenly realized, fulfilled all...