King Oedipus was the son of king Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes. Although he was born in Thebes, Oedipus grew up in Corinth as an adopted child of King of Corinth. As an adult, Oedipus offered himself to save Thebes from curses that had befallen the land. Incidentally, he saved Thebes from Sphinx’s curse (Sophocles 9). Oedipus took away his fathers life and married his own mother as had been prophesied. This paper examines how Oedipus was able to recognize his identity.
Before Oedipus birth, his father had committed immorality with Chrysippus for abducting and raping, and this brought a curse to him and his descendants. His wife bore him a son, but he learnt from an Oracle that he would be killed by his son (Taylor & Varakis 14). He tied the boy handed him to his mother to kill him in order to stop his death from his own son. However, Oedipus mother feared to kill her son and handed him to her servant who took the boy to the mountain where he was taken by a shepherd (Sophocles 19). The boy was taken by a shepherded, gave him the name Oedipus and took him Polybus the king of Corinth who took care of him as his own son. Oedipus had never known any other parent since his childhood apart from King Polybus and Queen Merope.
Oedipus heard rumors that King Polybus and Queen Merope were not his biological parents. After inquiring from Delphic Oracle about his real parents, instead of answering the question oracle told Oedipus that he would kill his real father and sleep with his mother. Oedipus got terrified by the prophecy, and he ran away in order to avoid killing his father ad marry his mother (Sophocles 23). On his way to Thebes, Oedipus met with Laius and killed him. Although he had fulfilled the prophecy of the oracle, Oedipus did not realize what he had done.
At Thebes Oedipus interpreted the kings dream and he was made the king and given queen Jocasta for a wife, unaware that he was marrying his mother. The interpretation of the dream was a must before the curse by Sphinx could be taken away from the people (Taylor & Varakis 28). The people continued to suffer and started pressuring kind Oedipus to do something in order to save their lives. Determined to end the curse of Thebes, Oedipus sent Creon to Apollo but he was told Thebes curse will end if they can prosecute the person who killed Laius.
Oedipus cursed the murder of the Laius (his father) and swore to kill the murderer whoever he was. He promised to do anything it would take “to save the people from the curse,” and vowed to execute the murder of the former king. Oedipus contacted Creon and prophet Teiresias and they all prophet pointed Oedipus and the real murder of his father. Teiresias proclaimed that Oedipus was the enemy of his own people because it was because of his sins that the land was in severe distress (Sophocles 38). Oedipus issued a death threat and accusations on Teiresias and Creon for attempting to overthrow him.
Jocasta dismissed the prophecy and convinced Oedipus that rumors even had spread their own son would” kill his father and sleep with his mother.” She reiterated that she and her husband killed their son; therefore, it was senseless to claim that Oedipus was her son and was the one who killed his father (Sophocles 51). However, queen Jocasta’s narration to Oedipus caused more disturbances to Oedipus because the Oracle told him that he (Oedipus) was adopted by the king of Corinth. The same oracle had told him that he would kill his biological father and bear children with his mother (Taylor & Varakis 56). Oedipus got worried because he recalled the man he had killed and the way he killed him was similar to the death of his father Laius.
Jocasta insisted it was of no good for Oedipus to continue delving into the past, but Oedipus could not listen. Unaware of whom he was, Oedipus consulted a messenger and a shepherded that were aware of how Oedipus was abandoned and then adopted. The narration brought the Queen to the realization that her son married her and that her son had indeed killed his father (Taylor & Varakis 68). She committed suicide while Oedipus plucked out his eyes and excommunicated from Thebe.
In conclusion, Oedipus in his childhood grew with his foster parents in Corinth before relocating to Thebes. He was determined to save Thebe from a curse, for which he had caused himself for murdering king Laius (his father) before marrying his biological mother though unaware. The messenger’s narration and the Teiresias prophecy made him realize his identity and his faults.
Sophocles. “Oedipus the King.” USA: University of Chicago Press, (2012): 1-88
Taylor, Sophocles. D. & Varakis, Angie. “Oedipus the King.” Methuen Drama, (2008): 1-128