Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Section 2 Analysis (lines 245-572)

Oedipus somewhat spurns the gods when he says, "You pray to the gods? Let me grant your prayers" (ll.245-246). This is early evidence that Oedipus believes he can have some sway over life on the level of the gods. When Oedipus pronounces the curses upon the murderer, the audience cannot help but feel the tension rise knowing that he is only cursing himself.

Sophocles further employs dramatic irony by having Oedipus declare of Laius and Jocasta, "why, our seed might be the same, children born of the same mother might have created blood-bonds between us" (ll. 296-298). While Oedipus is speaking proudly of the royal line of Thebes, he is at the same time highlighting the taboos in which he has unknowingly engaged.

The exchange between Oedipus and Tiresias is riddled with comments about who is blind and who is not—all these comments have meanings that Oedipus is ignorant of. His ignorance serves to heighten the impact of the truth when he does learn it. Due to his arrogance and ignorance, one could also argue that pride is his hamartia. This exchange also demonstrates how rash and quick to anger Oedipus is. Tiresias wisely sums up Oedipus's peripetia, or reversal of fortune, when he says, "Your great good fortune, true, it was your ruin" (l. 503).

The Chorus comments on the fallibility of prophets—a topic that was oft discussed in the time of the play. Though they demonstrate that men cannot perceive all truth, the Chorus underscores that the gods are themselves infallible—which is another essential concept of the work. How can Oedipus escape his fate if the gods have decreed it?

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