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Oedipus Rex Essay

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By managing to free the Thebes Kingdom from the terrible plaque, Oedipus is rewarded by being crowned the King. He also manages to get the blessing of his biological mother, Queen Dowager Jocasta. Oedipus had freed the kingdom by solving the Sphinx riddle. On the other hand, he had also fulfilled the Oracle prophesy by killing his biological father, Laius. Lauis, during his youth served as a guest of the King of Elis, King Pelops. In this capacity, he was entrusted to tutor the youngest son of the king, Chrysippus, in chariot racing. However, he violated the religious laws of hospitality when he abducted and raped Chrysippus. As a result, he, together with his descendants was cursed to doom (Heather, 2006).

On learning from the oracle, prophesy that he was going to perish by his own son’s hand; Laius binds together the feet of Oedipus, who was still an infant with a pin. Jocasta, who was ordered to kill the infant, could not do it. A servant was called to kill the infant. He instead took him to fields. There, he abandons him with the fate of the gods. A shepherd saved Oedipus and took it to a foster home. Later, the Oedipus overheard that the people he called his parents were not actually his biological parents. Besides, he was destined to have a bad fate with the foster parents. He therefore escapes. After escaping, he manages to solve the riddle and kill his biological father, thus fulfilling the oracle prophesies. Unfortunately, while he was leaving his foster parents, Oedipus still believed that they were his real biological parents (Heather, 2006).

In the Thebes Kingdom as the King, Oedipus encounters another plaque. It is when the chorus of the Thebans, accompanied by the priest, arrives at the King’s palace. They went there to besiege Oedipus to help them in unfolding the Apollo’s plaque that was ravaging the city. Initially, Oedipus had asked Creon, his brother-in-law to go to Delphi for the oracle’s help. When the priest and his company were arriving, Creon was also returning at that moment. The message brought by Creon implied that religious pollution, which came because the killer of King Laius, the former king, had never been arrested. Oblivious of who the murderer is, Oedipus, who is the murderer himself, curses the murderer, vowing to find him.

One of the things therefore, that motivates King Oedipus to conduct the investigation of the Laius murderer is his obsession and intelligence in solving riddles. Earlier own, he had managed to solve the riddle, which was bound to bring a disaster to the Thebes Kingdom. The riddle was that of finding a creature that, in the morning uses four legs, in at noon, two legs, and in the evening, three legs. With his intelligence, Oedipus proved wrong Sphinx, who had post the riddle, threatening that the kingdom will be tortured if no one solved the riddle. Oedipus was therefore, motivated by the fact that if he saved the land from disaster by solving the riddle before, then the riddle of finding Lauis murderer would not be a big deal (Heather, 2006).
It was going to be in vain if Oedipus had saved the Thebes Kingdom from a disaster, only to let it suffer in another plaque. He believed that having saved the kingdom before, he would surely save it again. Otherwise, his kingship would not have an impact. He was also motivated by the fact that he did not know that he was the murderer. Therefore, the determination and the confidence he had in pursuing and looking for the murderer was purely because he wanted to punish him by himself. If he had known who the murderer was, he could not have been motivated in the search. This is because the search could have been like a weapon for self- destruction.

The position of Oedipus in the Thebes Kingdom was another motivation. As a king, he had to bring peace to his people. That is why the priest, together with the people who were singing a chorus had to go and persuade him to intervene in the plaque that was ravaging the land. Apollo, the god, was angry at the Thebes Kingdom. The only person with the authority to plead with the god was the king, who was Oedipus in this case. With this obligation, Oedipus had to be motivated since if he could free the people from the plaque, he was bound to be more honored, and respected. Through such an honor and respect, rewards were likely to come to the king, as in the former case (Heather, 2006).

Another motivation for Oedipus was the Shepherd’s version of the testimony. According to the Shepherd, the murderers of Laius were several robbers. This clears the doubts that Oedipus had. With the belief that he is not the murderer, as assured by the shepherd, he beefs up the investigation with a lot of motivation and determination.

As the events unfold, the truth could no more be hidden from Oedipus. The shepherd, after being threatened by Oedipus, reveals the whole truth. On hearing the truth, Oedipus could not bear it. He curses himself. He also gives in to fate, and he leaves the stage.

Reference
Heather, J. (2006). The Norton Anthology, Western Literature. New York, NY: W.W.Norton & Company Ltd.

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