October 31, 2017
Oedipus The King
Oedipus The King unravels as a murder mystery, a political thriller, and a psychological whodunit. Throughout the course of this fabled story of patricide and incest, Sophocles demonstrates the irony of a man’s determination to hunt down, reveal, and punish a murderer, who in the end ultimately turns out to be himself. In the opening scene of the play, the citizens of Thebes beg their king, Oedipus, to lift the plague threatening to destroy their city. The citizens of Thebes sought out the help of Oedipus knowing that he once solved the great Sphinx riddle that terrorized their city. Oedipus pity’s the citizens of Thebes and reassures them that he has already sent Creon, his brother-in-law, to the oracle to learn what must be done. Following his return, Creon announces that the oracle instructs them to find the murder of Laius, the king who ruled the city of Thebes before Oedipus. Only through the discovery and punishment of the murderer shall the plague come to an end. As Oedipus sets out to solve the murder of former King Laius, he finds himself at crossroads as he discovers more about the actual truth. A story filled with ruthless killing, betrayals, and many acts of indecency, one would think that in this story there was no justice. However, Sophocles pinpoints exactly how one’s fate is inescapable and how justice is served in Oedipus The King.
First, the death of King Laius. Despite suffering what seemed to be an unjustified death, Laius was not necessarily a man of much innocence. When told by the Delphic oracle that his own son would be destined to one day kill him and marry his wife, Queen Jocasta, the boys own mother, Laius took his son to a mountainside, pierced his ankles, and left him there to die. Left for dead, Oedipus would be saved by a shepherd and taken to King Polybus and Queen Merope. This is a prime example of Laius defying the Gods in his attempt to kill his own innocent infant son in order to change his fate according to the oracle. Despite trying to escape his fate, Laius would eventually meet again with his son at a crossroads on Oedipus journey to return to Thebes. Oedipus would go on to murder Laius not knowing at the time that he was his father, serving Laius his justice of his inescapable fate.