The literal meaning of the passage said by the priest is very simple. The priest is talking to Oedipus on the palace doorstep at the very beginning of the play. He is asking Oedipus, as the king of Thebes, to renew his commitment to the people of Thebes as the "Defender of the State". He goes on to say, that the city is in trouble and it needs the Oedipus who conquered the Sphinx and not the sitting around all day eating grapes. Oedipus, for if he does nothing, then all he will have to rule over is a desert. This passage calls the 'hero' to the task, sets his quest, though with a hero there must always be tragedy associated with himÃ¢ÂÂ¦ The priest could actually be part of the chorus if this play was written in current times, because all he does is add a little narration.
However, with the play having been written in ancient time, the King should only take advice from an official advisor or someone else who had power.
This is worded quite well, it suggests some character traits of Oedipus and yet did not give away much of the plot right at the beginning. The character traits I am referring to is his ego. With things like "Your old devotion celebrates you stillÃ¢ÂÂ¦" it plain to see that he is revered as a hero, and with that fame comes the huge ego that allows Oedipus to fall on his Loral's. There is some imagery also in this quote, "...then be it of a kingdom manned and not a desert." This brings into focus the image of two different kinds of countries, one with great cities and a prosperous economy and the other a desert with people scattered around in little tents scraping what they can for food.