The play Oedipus the King written by the playwright Sophocles is the unfortunate development of the King of Thebes. Oedipus, an imperfect leader, has excessive pride and arrogance. This tragic flaw has poisoned his ego and built him into the tyrant he is at the end of the play. It is strongly believed that hubris was the essential cause of Oedipus’ downfall. Oedipus was too infatuated with keeping his reputation as a leader instead of realizing the events that were occurring around him.
Oedipus demonstrates hubris when searching for the person responsible for the death of Laius. He refuses to listen to suggestions or early examples of the prophecy. His blindness to prophecies and clues cause him to feel as if his judgment is the only valid one, leading Oedipus to believe he is the judge, jury and executioner. In fact Oedipus is so confident he will find the murderer that he is asking Thebans to pray to him instead of the gods. “You are praying. As for your prayers, if you are willing to hear and accept what I say now and so treat the disease, you will find rescue and relief from distress.”(Sophocles 14). Oedipus is stating how the prayers to get Thebes out of this suffering and torment. Oedipus strongly believes that he will rid the city of the plague, as he did the same with the Sphinx. This also shows that the citizens of Thebes trust in Oedipus, since this would not be his major accomplishment as the ruler of Thebes. In fact Oedipus refuses to listen to any criticism that anyone wants to give him. This is proved when he visits Tiresias.
“Tell me, when were you a true prophet? When the Sphinx chanted her riddle here, did you come forward to speak the word that would liberate the people of this town? That riddle was not for anyone who came along to answer-it called for prophetic insight. But you didn’t come
2 | Ponniah
forward, you offered no answer told you by the birds or the gods. No. I came know-nothing Oedipus, I stopped the Sphinx. I answered the riddle with my own intelligence.”(24)
Here Oedipus is demonstrating excessive pride and dignity. He is calling out that he himself rescued Thebes without any intention to do so. He also insults Tiresias by saying that he should have been the savior because he was a prophet at the time but instead he left the riddle for Oedipus to answer. Also he adds on that he had not prepared himself to answer the riddle, instead he was caught off guard when he answered it. This portrays Oedipus as an individual who doesn’t like it when his actions go unrecognized. And Oedipus has started his investigation of the murder with the same format as the Sphinx’s riddle, improvised.
As much as the citizens of Thebes trust Oedipus, he is a leader with little to no experience as a leader. The leader of the investigation has no formal plans or strategies on how he is going to find the man responsible for this heinous crime. Creon and Oedipus are found discussing the punishments that the suspect will face before...