31 March 2013. Oedipus the King: Oedipus the King or Oedipus Rex is definitely replete with myriad political, social, and spiritual power relationships among Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon, Choragos, and Tiresias…
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In this paper I will argue how on many occasions in Oedipus the King, Oedipus and other prominent characters make such comments which emphasize varying levels of power each of them is awarded with. Facts and discussion presented in this essay are basically meant to illuminate the reality of the claim that though Oedipus is presented as the absolute ruler of the city of Thebes by Sophocles, he is actually overtaken or even thwarted at some points in moments of hotheadedness by other influential characters who in a discreet way have more polished sociopolitical and spiritual understanding. It is evident that Oedipus has at least sufficiently more power than his wife (or mother) Jocasta because no amount of pleading or persuasion from her inflicts any effect on him and he maintains an inexorable, persistent, and adamant attitude about hearing the truth from Tiresias who is the oracle of God Apollo. Jocasta does not have enough power which could make her stand up resolutely against Oedipus in order to stop him from going to Tiresias upon listening from Creon that the plague existed in the city because the murderer of Laius remained in the city. Their spiritual ideologies also set in contrast to each other because unlike Oedipus who is moved after being condemned by Tiresias, Jocasta bluntly expresses that he should not worry in the least because all prophets are flawed or phony which is something very controversial or notorious to be said about the spiritual or religious matters for those times. Also, the political power that Oedipus has surpasses that of Jocasta’s because even though she tries to talk him into not punishing Creon on any account, he refuses to second guess his decisions and goes on to banish his royal colleague (Creon) from Thebes because he says, “my one-time friend Creon attacks me secretly for wealth and power” (li. 452, Bartel). The title of king and the associated power is desired by Creon even more than Oedipus and he comes across as a shrewder politician with more reasonable social vision than King Oedipus who is often hotheaded, frenzied, and exposed unlike the secretive, calm, and manipulative attitude of Creon. But, that does not mean that Oedipus does not get his share of miseries or defeats in the play only because is the sole ruler of the city who could not be intimidated by anyone else. Tiresias, for example, is one character who is not at all influenced or scared by the political power of Oedipus. When Oedipus accuses Tiresias that “you are blind in mind and ears/as well as in your eyes” (li. 370-5, Goldhill 219) after listening from him that the plague existed in the city because of himself, the oracle without considering the fact that he is in the presence of a king replies pointblank, “you are a poor wretch to pile upon me insults which everyone soon will heap upon you” (li. 370-5, Goldhill 219). He also fearlessly tells Oedipus that “although you are the ruler, we have equal power to speak. I am not a slave to you, but I serve Apollo. You insult my blindness, but you, who are not blind, cannot see your own suffering” (li. 410, Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus). The powerful functions of the Chorus or Choragos are also very prominent in Oedipus Rex. The Chorus have sufficient power over Oedipus in that they try to contribute wisdom by telling him to stay clam like a smart ruler and stay away from seeking trouble. The Chorus have
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