How Oedipus causes his own self-destruction in "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles

Essay by winteryfreshHigh School, 10th gradeA, April 2006

download word file, 3 pages 4.7

Downloaded 53 times

The play "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles is a tragedy in which the main character, Oedipus Rex, killed his father and married his mother. Approaching the end of the play, Creon, now the King of Thebes, said to Oedipus, "Think no longer/That you are in command here, but rather think/How, when you were, you served your own destruction." Creon is correct in this pronouncement. Three times throughout the play, Oedipus failed to take the advice of significant people in his life. His father, Polybus, the prophet, Teiresias, and his wife, Jocasta, all tried to advise him to stop pursuing the truth. His incapability to completely identify with what these three people were trying to tell him ultimately led to his destruction.

Oedipus' first set of advice came from Polybus following a banquet in Corinth. After a drunken man approached Oedipus and declared that he was not his father's son, Oedipus questioned Polybus.

Polybus told Oedipus to dismiss the man's remarks, that it was "the slanderous remarks of a fool", but Oedipus' curiosity got the best of him. He traveled to Delphi where the oracle told him that he would lie with his own mother and that he would be his father's murderer. Petrified of killing Polybus, he fled from Corinth. While fleeing, he unknowingly killed King Laius, his real father, and subsequently, in Thebes, married Jocasta, his real mother. Once he made the rash decision to flee from Corinth, Oedipus set the prophecy of the oracle in motion, which is the opposite of what he intended. Had he just listened to Polybus, he never would have encountered King Laius, or married his own mother.

The second set of advice Oedipus failed to listen to came from the prophet Teiresias. A great plague had befallen Thebes.