Importance of Oedipus and Teiresias' Conversation in Scene One of Oedipus Rex

Essay by dmarsicoB, March 2004

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Oedipus Rex, a classic Greek play, was written almost 2500 years ago by a famous playwright named Sophocles. The play focuses on finding Laius' killer but through the process, Oedipus finds out who he truthfully is. In Scene one lines 284-448 Oedipus is speaking to Teiresias a blind prophet, he asks Teiresias to reveal Laius' killer. This passage has defining characteristics that are important to the play as a whole, which can be simply conveyed on stage. This passage helps develop and make the play more intriguing by showing how blind to the truth Oedipus really is.

Before the beginning of the play Oedipus saves the people of Thebes from the curse of the Sphinx and becomes king virtually overnight. He proclaims his name proudly as though it were itself a healing charm "I have come myself to hear you-/ I, Oedipus, who bear the famous name."(Prologue 9-10) what Oedipus does not realize is that he had killed Laius son of Labdakos on the way to the Sphinx.

The play is based on finding the killer of Laius. Oedipus wants justice done and for the murderer to be banished from Thebes. Oedipus does what he can to make this happen. This includes a conversation with Teiresias.

The passage starts off when a boy leads in the blind prophet Teiresias to Oedipus. Oedipus then begins to beg Teiresias to reveal who Laius' murderer is, but Teiresias answers only that he knows the truth but wishes he did not. Puzzled at first, then angry, Oedipus insists that Teiresias tell Thebes Thebes what he knows. Provoked by the anger and insults of Oedipus, Teiresias begins to hint at his knowledge. Finally, when Oedipus furiously accuses Teiresias of the murder, Teiresias tells Oedipus that Oedipus himself is the curse on Thebes that he...