King Oedipus Search For Truth: Positive Or Negative?

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King Oedipus’ Search for Truth: Positive or Negative? Adages, with stunning concision and generality, often provide blunt, genuine commonalities of the human experience. One such maxim goes, ignorance is bliss. In other words, those who live under a guise fool themselves away from real truth; a truth typically of startling or dramatic proportions. Athenian tragedian Sophocles expands upon this concept in his play Oedipus the King—a tale of a fated king in his relentless pursuit of truth eventually learning that he had killed his father and married his mother. At the play’s conclusion, Oedipus gouges his eyes and banishes himself from his land. In this quest for truth, Oedipus leads himself to many revelations, all of which cannot be described…show more content…
The very beginning of the play describes Oedipus’ rise to power. A pleading priest describing Oedipus spoke, “[T]hough you knew nothing from us that could help you...did you uplift our life...this land calls you savior for your former zeal” (Sophocles 127). The priest alludes to Oedipus’ foremost heroic act: solving the riddle of the sphinx. Oedipus’ ability to discover the truth earned him acclaim amongst his fellow Thebans. Oedipus in seeing his success in his truth-finding strategy, again sought to absolve his people of a second burden: plague. Oedipus is informed by the oracle through Creon that the only way to get rid of the plague is to locate and punish the killer of former king Laius. In response, Oedipus delivers a personal edict to his people to find the murderer. Doing so, Oedipus paints himself as the good and just king that he is. Furthermore, in Oedipus’ search, he declared, “[I]f with my privity, [the murderer] should become an inmate of my house, I may suffer the same things which I have just called down upon others” (132). Oedipus’ declarations during his search paint him as the quintessential enlightened despot, one that does not favor family and doles out only just punishments. Unbeknownst to him, he would indeed house Laius’…show more content…
Oedipus has a fallout with Creon; a minor bout resulting from an argument with Teiresias, the blind prophet, but this pales in comparison to later repercussions. Unable to cope with the reality Oedipus had bestowed upon her, Jocasta hanged herself causing Oedipus much grief. Prior to, Teiresias stated, “[Oedipus,] you are living in unguessed shame” (135). He prophesied the shame Oedipus would subdue to. And at its climax, the chorus, representing his Theban people, disavowed King Oedipus and his contributions to Thebes saying it would have been better without him. These acts combined drive the humiliated Oedipus towards self-punishment, exile, and to his piteous, shameful fate. Sophocles in Oedipus the King puts the idea of truth and knowledge in the spotlight of Greek and modern audiences. Although Oedipus himself meets a collectively negative end, the power of truth is revealed through his misery. Some things are best left to the Gods rather than in the minds of men, it would have been to Oedipus’ ignorant bliss. However, the truth is an inescapable and propelling force that drives much of Greek drama and real
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