This old lore I had forgotten; else I was not here.
In the first scene, we see Teiresias brought in front of Oedipus to talk about the prophecy. He knows the true identity of the King, but feels like it is a burden for him to know it at all. He knows that it wouldn’t profit him to know the truth about Oedipus and the prophecy. He regrets being there, and wished that if he could have just forgotten it, then he won’t have to be in that place. As a prophet, Teiresias felt compelled to tell the truth though he knows that it won’t benefit him. He got dragged in the situation that’s why it’s really is burdensome for him.
Ode 1 – CHORUS: Sore perplexed am I by the words of the master seer. Are they true, are they false? I know not and bridle my tongue for fear, Fluttered with vague surmise; nor present nor future is clear. Quarrel of ancient date or in days still near know I none Twixt the Labdacidan house and our ruler, Polybus' son. Proof is there none: how then can I challenge our King's good name, How in a blood-feud join for an untracked deed of shame?
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In this part, the chorus is somewhat doubting Teiresias and is siding with Oedipus. They’re saying that what the old prophet’s words were confusing, and because of this ambiguity, there is a hint of doubt in the prophecy. They dare not challenge the integrity of the good King Oedipus, as there is not much proof in what the prophet is saying. Because of this, none of them really knows what lies ahead in the future.
Scene 2 – CREON: Were not his wits and vision all astray, when upon me he fixed this monstrous charge?
When Oedipus and Teiresias argued, it unfolded to the King that someone would dethrone him, and it was Creon. Creon, brazened, stood up to question his King’s assumptions. He reasoned out that the prophet may be out of his mind when he said such things to Oedipus, which he shouldn’t believe much of what he says.
Ode 2 – CHORUS: My lot be still to lead The life of innocence and fly Irreverence in word or deed, To follow still those laws ordained on high Whose birthplace is the bright ethereal sky No mortal birth they own, Olympus their progenitor alone: Ne'er shall they slumber in oblivion cold, The god in them is strong and grows not old.
Still, Oedipus is devoid of the truth. He consults the gods, yet none of them seems to hear his woes and prayers. As a King who knows nothing about himself, he feels fear, anger and pity for himself. All he wanted to know was who his true parents are, but how will he now about it, if there’s know hope left for him to find the truth.
Scene 3 – JOCASTA: My greetings to thee, stranger; thy fair words Deserve a like response. But tell me why Thou comest—what thy need or what thy news.
Jocasta receives a visitor, who came to tell them that Polybus, Oedipus’ father has died. She thought that because of this, Oedipus was freed of the prophecy, only to find out that Polybus was really not the King’s father. Jocasta thought it was great news at first, only to find out that it would be a nail in the coffin for them. The visitor finally confirmed that Polybus and Merope were not Oedipus’ real parents.
Ode 3 – CHORUS: Child, who bare thee, nymph or goddess? sure thy sure was more than man, Haply the hill-roamer Pan. Of did Loxias beget thee, for he haunts the upland wold; Or Cyllene's lord, or Bacchus, dweller on the hilltops cold? Did some Heliconian Oread give him thee, a new-born joy? Nymphs with whom he love to toy?
At this part, the chorus questions that the real parents of Kind Oedipus, as the King himself doesn’t know anything about it. All that has unfolded to him that moment was realizations that he grew up knowing nothing about his own self, and as the truths became known, slowly he understands that there is a possibility that the prophecy about him has already been fulfilled.
Scene 4 – OEDIPUS: Ah me! Ah me! All brought to pass, all true! O light, may I behold thee nevermore! I stand a wretch, in birth, in wedlock cursed, A parricide, incestuously, triply cursed!
This part is the bitter realization that it was really him who’s mentioned in the prophecy, as confirmed by the shepherd. He killed his own father, and married his own mother Jocasta. He wasn’t able to bear all the bitter realizations in the end, despite all his greatness as a king. He was still a human being, weak at heart.
Ode 4 – CHORUS: O heavy hand of fate! Who now more desolate, Whose tale more sad than thine, whose lot more dire?
This is the summary of emotions felt in the story. Oedipus feels nothing but sadness, as his life has been full of lies. As he discovers the truth about himself, he learns that the prophecy has been true. He is the murderer of his father and had an incestuous relationship with his mother. Nothing could be worst that what he experienced.
Exodos – OEDIPUS: Dark, dark! The horror of darkness, like a shroud, Wraps me and bears me on through mist and cloud. Ah me, ah me! What spasms athwart me shoot, What pangs of agonizing memory?
After knowing the truth bout his life, Oedipus blinded himself, and has exiled himself away from the city. The haunting memory of his past would always be with him, that’s why he could not bear live in the light.
"Sophocles' Oedipus the King". 2000. April 1 2008. <http://classics.uc.edu/~johnson/tragedy/summaries/oedipusrex.html>.
Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Publishing, 2001.
SparkNotes. "Oedipus Plays". 2006. April 1 2008. <http://www.sparknotes.com/drama/oedipus/>.
---. "Oedipus the King". 2006. April 1 2008. <http://pd.sparknotes.com/drama/oedipus/section2.html>.
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