The Primary Characters of Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King

Sophocles composed “Oedipus the King,” which is typically given up its Latin translation Oedipus Rex instead of its original Greek Oedipus Tyranneus, in between 441-427 B.C.E. He composed it for the annual celebration, among the significant civic events in Athens, where there is competitors for rewards between playwrights (Myth Male’s Research Assist Center 2003). Sophocles won the 2nd reward for this play.

The story was in the setting of Thebes and includes the famous riddle of Sphinx, and the awful story of murder, incest and repercussions. It also presents concepts of fate, hubris, and paradox.

The primary characters of Oedipus the King are: Oedipus, main figure and the terrible hero of the play; Creon, the sibling of Jocasta; Jocasta, Oedipus partner however later realized was his mom; Tieresias, the blind reputable prophet who informed Oedipus about his fate; Corinthian messenger, who pertained to Oedipus to inform him the death of his dad Polybus; and the Thebian shepherd, who exposed the final truth.

The story reveal the difficulty of looking for the truth as Ancient Greek valued a lot the pursuit of knowledge and drama is just among their methods to check and figure out the understanding and the fact. There is also character transformation of Oedipus where he was presented in the play as prideful, brave king, to an autocrat in rejection, to a condemned male, and a humbled man in the end (Novelguide 2007).

Lots of people considered Oedipus the King to be the finest tragedy ever written, extremely well-written. Every character is crucial part of the play. Every line is very important. Even minor characters have crucial roles played. Sophocles created the impression in the story that what occurred in the play is fated as every oracle has currently occurred. The play also demonstrates how Oedipus responded and selected his choices about the discoveries of fact of how he fulfilled the oracle and did things against the laws of both man and gods (Muswell 2004).

The First Oracle

The story focuses on the fate of Oedipus. The first oracle is that the Laius kid will eliminate him and sleep with her better half Jocasta. To avoid the oracle to take place, Laius and Jocasta accepted eliminate the child. The baby’s feet were pinioned and was offered to their shepherd with their order to bring him and be killed on Mt Cithaeron.

However, the servant provided the infant rather to a shepherd of Corinth on the other side of the mountain out of pity. The King of Corinth, Polybus, accepted the baby when the Corinthian shepherd offered him the baby. Given that the king is childless, he brings the infant as his own kid and provided him the name Oedipus, which indicates swollen feet, due to the fact that of his defect (Wilson 2007; Watchung Hills Regional High School).

The 2nd Oracle

Oedipus went to Delphi to validate his own origin at the oracle of Apollo when somebody at a party called him a bastard. He discovered that the oracle said he will eliminate his daddy and sleep with his mother. He headed to the opposite direction to Corinth, the Thebes since he was afraid the oracle will be satisfied mistakenly.

It is where he met an aggressive and disrespectful old guy driving a wagon followed by a group of servants in a location where three roadways satisfy. This old male bought him to leave the road and when Oedipus refused the old guy whip him with his goad. Oedipus eliminated the guy and all the guards, therefore he thought, and continued to Thebes (Wilson 2007; Watchung Hills Regional High School).

These parts of the play show that in spite of the truth that the oracle or gods’ forecast of the future rarely falsify, the characters still attempt to eliminate and avoid the fulfillment of the prophecy. However, it appears that fate actually has concerned its partial satisfaction when at this time the prophecy that he will eliminate his dad has taken place.

The Riddle of the Sphinx

When he get here there, a Sphinx terrorized Thebes, a hybrid animal with the body of a lioness, head of a female, and wings, and eliminates all who can not fix her riddle. When Oedipus was able to resolved the riddle, he was thought about as the hero of Thebes, put him as the ruler, and Thebes offered him Jocasta as an extra benefit (Wilson 2007).

Sophocles did not go into the information of the Sphinx’s riddle however some authors say that the riddle is this: “Which animal has one voice, but 2, 3 or 4 feet being slowest on 3?” In which, Oedipus responded to with “Guy” (Wilson 2007).

This part of the play proves the greatness of Oedipus in fixing riddles, but later on made him oblivious when he can’t solve and understand the riddle about his own origin.

The Third Oracle

After years, when Oedipus already has four kids with Jocasta, there was a disease called disgusting afflict which eliminated animals, children, and crops, an illness brought on by pollution with sin and just the god can reveal its cause. And so Oedipus sent out Creon, his brother-in-law, to consult the oracle at Delphi.

The 3rd oracle is that the plague is caused by an unpunished murder of Laius. Oedipus awfully cursed the killer of Laius and ask Teiresias, a respected prophet, to help him. Teiresias told him he was the killer however Oedipus did not believe him. What he thinks is that Teiresias and Creon planned it to get his throne and power.

Teiresias entrusted to the threat of Oedipus while Creon attempted to discuss that he is innocent of what Oedipus is accusing him. If it wasn’t for Jocasta’s intervention just in time to stop the fight in between Oedipus and Creon, Oedipus may have executed Creon (Wilson 2007; Watchung Hills Regional High School).

Oedipus refusal to the fact is like loss of sight, as he can not see the truth which is already in front of him, the truth that the blind prophet Teiresias can see.

The Location where 3 Roads Fulfill

When Jocasta heard that the quarrel was about an oracle, he informed Oedipus that oracles are rubbish. She told him about the oracle they were as soon as informed that their child will kill its dad. However, her spouse Laius was eliminated by robbers at the location where 3 roadways satisfy and the kid passed away when he was a baby.

Oedipus then remembers he has actually killed a male because place. He started to believe and fear what if that guy was Laius, and he would be the cursed polluter of Thebes. Jocasta tried to convince him that it is not, and discussed about the witness of the murder, a guy who handled to escape. His thoughts and fears will just rest if he will be able to talk with that experienced of Laius murder (Wilson 2007; Watchung Hills Regional High School).

The Corinthian Messenger

He sent for the witness however who came was the messenger from Corinth. The messenger told Oedipus about the death of his father Polybus which he will likewise be the King of Corinth. Oedipus obviously did not wish to come back to Corinth while his mother is alive since of the oracle.

However the messenger said that he has absolutely nothing to fear about given that she wasn’t her mother and Polybus is neither his father. He explained that a shepherd from Thebes brought him. In here, Jocasta already understood the truth that Oedipus is her boy, however she instantly went out of the scene. Oedipus, haven’t fully understand the fact, just believed that Jocasta was just embarrassed that her other half was a bastard and might even be a slave (Wilson 2007; Watchung Hills Regional High School).

The Old Sheperd

The entire reality was revealed when lastly the old Theban shepherd showed up, which turned out to be the very same seen of Laius murder Jocasta pointed out. He was in fact hesitant to inform Oedipus anything, however under the threat of abuse he told him whatever he knew. He reveals how the baby was provided to him to be killed, and how he gave the infant to a Corinthian shepherd because of pity for the child.

When this fact lastly exposed, Oedipus hurried to discover Jocasta, but it was too late because she already hanged herself. Oedipus blinded himself with a pin from Jocasta’s dress. Creon became the ruler of Thebes.

He purchased Oedipus into the house to await the disposal at the god’s satisfaction after letting him bid farewell to his children. Oedipus, accepting the reality of his sins, firmly insisted that he ought to be left to pass away on Cithaeron as what the gods originally intended to occur (Wilson 2007; Watchung Hills Regional High School).

Sophocles gave a photo of loss of sight and fallibility of humanity through the story where he focused and committed the majority of the play to the discovery of the fact about the murder and the incest. He made Oedipus the author of the discovery of the fact and at the same time the unconscious representative in his own destruction.

In the story, it is Oedipus who continued carrying on the unraveling of the reality due to the fact that he believes it would benefit himself and his kingdom, taking every step that causes the reality. However then when the reality was revealed, it was likewise when he recognized the degree of his misdirected endeavors (The Terrible of the Greeks 1896).

Even if you read the play often times all over again, you can always get something new out of it as it has an effective theme of light versus dark, knowledge versus lack of knowledge, truth versus impression, and seeing versus loss of sight. Among the paradoxes displayed in the play is that a blind prophet can see the truth and when the sighted male Oedipus understood the reality, he blinded himself so he can not see the reality of his life (Muswell 2004).

Ancient Background

There are ancient bases of the story Oedipus the King. To start with, there is a spiritual message in the story which states that you can’t leave your fate (Wilson 2007).

Second of all, in the Greek law, Oedipus was not an innocent unlike in other laws such as that of Roman or English. The act counted more than the intention, this is what the Greek believe (Wilson 2007). Given that he committed the criminal activity, he still sinned and needs to be penalized even if he did not do it intentionally.

Third, to assist his friends and hurt his opponents remain in the responsibility of Greeks. Thus, the murder of Laius was not really a criminal offense of Oedipus. At that time they satisfied at the place where 3 roadways meet, Laius insulted Oedipus which makes him an opponent (Wilson 2007). Nevertheless, this one seems to contradict the claim that what he did corrupted his innocence under the Greek law.

Furthermore, household is of fantastic worth to the Greek culture. What was shown in the story is the worst possible crime for Greeks– Oedipus eliminating his father; and the second worst is sleeping with his mother (Wilson 2007).

Fifthly, Oedipus is thought about as the best of males and the solver of riddles. However can only resolve the riddle which tells about his own origin and fate if stunning truth be revealled (Wilson 2007).

Lastly, there is a power of menstruation. Oedipus cursed the murderer of Laius which seems to sentence himself (Wilson 2007). And as shown in the play, he penalized himself by blinding himself and firmly insisted that he might be left in the Cithaeron as that was the plan of the gods.


Oedipus is yet another flawed hero as he has lived in the lack of knowledge of truth, speed of his anger and conviction that his intents were ideal to expose the reality he can’t overlook. Yet Oedipus is still a good man given that his objective is for the betterment of the people in kingdom, to be devoid of the plague, which he did not know he in fact reason for (Muswell 2004). It is a tragic as his loyalty to Thebes, fidelity to the fact, extreme pride, and self-righteousness ruin him.

What occurred to Oedipus, the awful hero, works as an example to the audience of what will occur to a terrific man when he fall due to the fact that of his conceit in their social or political position. It serves to teach the audience that whatever they do, they will suffer the effects, as Oedipus did.

The play likewise show the importance of understanding and knowledge which exceed the visual things. Sophocles used the blindness of Teiresias, Jocasta, and Oedipus. Teiresias was technically blind, but he can see the truth. Jocasta’s blindness is displayed in the occasion that she does not believe in the power of oracles. She was blinded by her free choice not to accept the reality the Oedipus was her child (BookRags 2006).

On the other hand, Sophocles utilized Oedipus loss of sight in exposing the value of comprehending that features duty. He came close to the truth and yet stopped working to understand it’s already in front of him (BookRags 2006).

Religious beliefs likewise played an essential role in the structure of the play where Oedipus was told he was predestined to eliminate his father and sleep with his mom. He thought he might change his own fate and do not leave all of it up to the gods. With his absence of belief to gods, his kingdom was affected by the destruction triggered by gods as punishment for the offense. Oedipus put aside the religion and believed just to himself.

But we can also see one of Sophocles function of his play, which is to let people see the hero inside despite of his downfall. In this case, after Oedipus found out the reality, he accepted it even chose to be punished by the laws of gods and the laws he made.

This is a very good and enlightening play that individuals should require time to check out or enjoy. It shows many moral lessons from the guideline of fate, ignorance, understanding, knowledge, and the devastating power of pride.

Functions Cited

Muswell. “Complex Oedipus.” 16 April 2004. Ciao. 26 November 2007

“Oedipus Rex.” 2006. BookRags Student Essays. 26 November 2007

“Oedipus Rex.” The Awful Drama of the Greeks. A.E. Haigh. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896: 188-91.

“Oedipus the King.” 2003. Myth Man’s Research Help Center, Thanasi’s Olympus Greek Dining establishment. 25 November 2007

“Oedipus the King.” 2007. Novelguide. 26 November 2007

“Oedipus The King by Sophocles.” Watchung Hills Regional High School. 26 November 2007

Wilson, Andrew. “Oedipus.” 01February 2007. The Classic Pages. 26 November 2007

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