In the story of Oedipus Rex, Sophocles portrays the main
character, Oedipus, as a good natured person that has bad
judgment and frailty. Oedipus makes a few bad decisions and is
condemned to profound suffering because of his pride. I agree
with Aristotle that he brings it all on to himself because of his own
One day Oedipus finds out that there is a prophecy that
depicts him killing his father and marrying his mother. The
prophecy may have been proven untrue if he wouldn't have put
himself on such a high pedestal. It all started one day when he met
up with King Laius:
Seated in it. The groom leading the horses
Forced me off the road at his lord's command;
But as this charioteer lurched over towards me
I struck him in my rage...I killed him (1.2.764-772).
Oedipus met the King Laius on a bridge and was too proud to let
him pass first, and then the King pushed him out of the way.
fit of rage, Oedipus killed him. All the while, an old man,
Teiresias, knew that it was King Laius that Oedipus had killed.
Oedipus didn't even know that it was King Laius that he killed. In
the future, when Teiresias tries to convince Oedipus that he is the
killer, Oedipus turns him away and calls him a liar and blames it
all on him:
And I'll tell you what I think:
You planned it, you had it done, you all but
Killed him with your own hands: if you had eyes,
I'd say that the crime was yours, and yours alone.
Teiresius is a blind prophet, and it is possible that if Oedipus had
listened to him in the first place, his internal suffering may have
been much less severe. He should have accepted what he had to
say as fact no matter how unbelievable.
I think that I myself may be accursed
By my own ignorant edict.
Jocasta You speak strangely.
It makes me tremble to look at you, my King.
I am not sure that the blind man cannot see,
But I should know better if you were to tell me---
The prophecy also stated that Oedipus will be damned in
marriage. He marries Jocasta and he rules as the King of Thebes
and is well respected by all of his people. Once Oedipus realizes
that he has married his own mother and killed his own father and
took his throne, he goes into a great depression. He can no longer
look into the eyes of the people that have entrusted him for the last
few years, so he stabs out his eyes:
It was true!
All the prophecies!
O light, may I look on to you for the last time!
Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage
Damned in the blood he shed with his own hand!
All of the suffering that Oedipus encounters is brought on by
himself because of his immense pride. Aristotle's theories seem to
hold true. If he wasn't so proud, he would have never killed King
Laius and told Teiresius that he was a liar. In the beginning,
Teiresius was simply trying to ease him slowly into the truth.
Oedipus was too proud to see any truths and he refused to believe
that he could be responsible for such a horrible crime. He learned
a lesson about life and how there is more to it than just one
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. World Literature. Orlando: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1993. 307-367.