Oedipus:The King of Ancient Greekwas performed for the first timein 429 BC. In the play, Oedipus is afraid of fulfilling the prophecythat would see him marry his mother after killing his father. Theplay’s central idea isbasedon a prophecymade by the Delphi Oracle(Young157).The Oracleinforms King Laius and Queen Jocasta that their son would turnmurderous. They decide to counter the tragedy by giving out thelittle boy to a shepherd to get rid of him in the mountains. Instead,he hands Oedipus to a herdsman, who takes him to Corinth where theroyal family adopts him.
Thestory’s meaning also borrows from the prognostications made by theSybil.Oedipus seeks help from the Oraclewhen he learns that the king and the queen are not his biologicalparents. The sage acquaintshim with the disturbing prophecythat he will kill his father and marry his mother. To avert thetragedy, he stays in Thebes and refuses to go back to Corinth. Littledid he know that it was a step towards his foreseen destiny (Young67).He kills Laius after engaging in a brawl near Thebes, oblivious thathe was his father. He also battles and assassinates the huge Sphinxwho terrorized people from the countryside.The citizens are overjoyed and perceive him as a hero. What appearslike a noble action becomes the fulfillment of the destiny thatOedipus was evading.The dreadful prophecycatches up with him,and they get four children with queen Joacaster, his mother. Amongthem is Antigone, his daughter,and half-sister.
Horrendousfate is the primary themein the play. WhenOedipus discovers the truth, he pierces his eyes with pins andbecomes blind (Young, 156). Antigone cares of her blind father andeschews her aspirations. Oedipus dies a wise a man bearing aphilosophy that no one can control reality.
Afterquarreling, Polynices attacks his brother Eteocles, and Creon`s armykills the two. Creon refuses to bury Polynices with honor and Antigone faults theidea. Ismene informs the kingof her sister’s sentiments,and he orders the killing of the two sisters. However Creon’s son,who wanted to marry Antigone, asks him to reconsiderhis decision.He refuses and the young man leaves vowing never to return (Young163). To save his son, the king decides to revisit his resolution,but it is already late because the two girls arealready executed.Haemoncommitssuicide,and the queen stabs herself because the loss of her son isunbearable.
Themeaning of this story is clear that fate is beyond human control. TheProphecy given by the oracles and their powerful voice cannot beaverted. Oedipus fate is determined,and no effort can change itscourse. The king is brought down by uncontrollable powers. Antigoneis trapped,and she becomes aware of the fateful powers that brought tragedy inher family. The destiny’s constraints do spare her,and the curse in the family consumes her. She is overwhelmed by thetomblike prison punishment and hangs herself. Creon comes to rescueher when it’s too late. Haemon who was Antigone’s fiancé killshimself,and his mother stabs herself when she learns about his death.
Young,George. TheTheban Plays: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone.NewYork: Courier Corporation, 2012.