Oedipus the King by Sophocles was a play written after a devastating plague struck the city of Athens in 430 B.C. The play is about how knowledge can lead to devastation and destruction based on how the characters find out the truth of the Delphic Oracle. Years before Oedipus became the king of Thebes, the previous king, Laius, had received a prophecy that his son would grow up to kill his father. With this information he gave his baby son to a sheperd to dispose of him. Years later Laius is murdered and the Sphinx emerges and locks down the city by refusing to let anybody enter or leave the city unless they can solve her riddle. The city is essentially under siege. But nobody knows the answer to her riddle. "What goes on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?" Everybody who tries to answer the riddle is killed by the Sphinx until one day a stranger comes upon the city. The Sphinx asks him the riddle and he simply replies, "Man." The stranger solves the riddle and the Sphinx throws herself to her death. The city opens up to him, he marries the widowed queen, becomes king of Thebes, and unwillingly begins to fulfill most of the prophecy.
What is the meaning of sight and blindness for an understanding of Oedipus the King?
But the reason Oedipus, who is the prince of Corinth, has come to Thebes, is to escape an oracle of his own. Before coming to Thebes he went to seek the Delphic Oracle to ask if Polybus and Merope were his natural parents.
The Delphic Oracle replied:
"You are fated to couple with your mother, you will bring
a breed of children into the light that no man can bear to see you will kill your father, the one who gave you life!"
With that information, Oedipus fled Corinth to run away to escape his prophecy to make sure it would not come true. Oedipus is a respected leader;
his people are loyal and they love him. But Oedipus does not even know who he really is. A plague strikes the city and he sends Creon to go to the Delphic Oracle.
The god Apollo tells Creon clearly to:
"Drive the corruption from the land,
don't harbor it any longer, pass all cure,
don't nurse it in your soil root it out!"
So the only way to lift the plague is to banish the man who killed the former king or pay back blood with blood, because murder brought forth the plague to the city. Oedipus is outraged; he wants to find who killed Laius. He stands outside and announces to Thebes that if anybody knows the murderer, speak up and be rewarded. Oedipus would not hurt the man but he would be banished.
"Where I hold the throne and power: banish this man
whoever he may be never shelter him, never
speak a word to him, never make him a partner
to your prayers, your victims burned to the gods."
Oedipus is so confident, he even curses himself. With all of his heart and knowledge he puts the curse of himself knowing that he knew the culprit was out there.
Oedipus calls for Tiresias, a blind...