Tyranny is defined as an oppressive and absolute power vested in a single ruler. From a noble leader of a city-state such as Thebes to a self-centered husband in a middle class home, there have been many faces of a tyrant throughout literature. Dramatists have used tyranny as a foil to the triumph of the human spirit and in turned, showed us how easy it is for a man to fall victim to hubris, the tragic vice of tyranny. Such was the Case of Oedipus in Sophocles's Oedipus Rex.
A tyrant was roughly what we should call a dictator, a man who obtained sole power in the state and held it in defiance of any constitution that had existed previously. This might be done by mere force for the sake of personal power, but the common justification of dictatorship, then as now, was the dictator's ability to provide more effective government.
There are times when it can plausibly be asserted that the existing machinery of state is unable to cope with a crisis arising from external pressure or internal tension, and it was mainly at such times that support could be found in a Greek city for the strong rule of a single tyrant.
Oedipus was a man of noble birth, who proved his noble traits again and again. Upon hearing the Delphic prophecy of patricide and incest, the well-intentioned Oedipus took radical steps to thwart fate: fleeing his parents and his home in Corinth. He did well on his own in the world. Strong and cunning, he proved himself many times, most of all when he solved the riddle of the Sphinx and saved Thebes. After Oedipus became King of Thebes, Delphi spoke again, suggesting that the only way to end a severe blight plaguing Thebes was...