Oedipus the King by the Greek

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Oedipus the King was written by the Greek play writer, Sophocles and first performed in 429 B.C.E. Luke Mastin, in his article “Ancient Greece - Sophocles - Oedipus the King” mentions the play was written during a period of time known as the “Golden Age of Athens” because of a good deal of wealth, power and cultural accomplishments of the city-state throughout that era (Mastin). One of the many artistic forms of the time was tragic plays resulting in the creation of Oedipus the King. Throughout the play, sight is a symbol of anguish. Oedipus has sight to see his faults but chooses to feign ignorance. Yet when he’s finally able to see what he’s done he stabs his eyes out. Oedipus act of taking his sight away symbolized that the truth can be hard to handle.

This tragic play tells the tale of a man named Oedipus who is told by a prophecy that he will kill his own father and marry his mother. Oedipus chooses to ignore the forewarning and move, in hopes that he could escape the tragic fate. In Thebes the people are battling the plague, in which they requested Oedipus save them from. However, to save the people of Thebes from the plague, Oedipus needed to find the murderer of Laius, the former king. Oedipus swore he would find and punish the man. Ironically, Oedipus is the suspect and is later exposed to the truth. Oedipus realizes that he was not able to avoid the prophecy and is now responsible for the plague. Oedipus becomes so disgusted with his self that he decided to take his own punishment into his own hands.

Oedipus blinding himself shows the viewers that he took ownership for what he’s done. As seen in the play, Oedipus stabs his eyes out while declaring “eyes now you will not, no, never see the evil I suffered, the evil I caused. You will see blackness” (Sophocles, pg.699). Meaning Oedipus stabbed his eyes out so that he doesn’t get to see his mistakes because it causes him misery. This kind of comes off as a cowardly act and an escape for Oedipus. Without sight Oedipus is not able to witness the judgment from the people of Thebes or the results of his actions, so he’s not tormented. However, in the same light, Oedipus acknowledges that seeing the truth of his actions has left him blind and with great anguish to his actions , leaves him too ashamed of himself to witness the citizens' reactions because that would bring him discomfort.

Another example of sight bringing torment is seen in the play as the leader spoke to Oedipus, “Your pain is terrible to see, pure, helpless anguish, more moving than anything my eyes have ever touched” (Sophocles, pg.700). In other words, Oedipus actions brought so much sorrow to him that just witnessing the tragedy caused him pain.

Moreover, Oedipus chooses to stab his eyes out as a way of punishing himself for his pomposity and ignorance. Sight was portrayed as something that brought forth the agonizing truth, in which neither Oedipus nor the people of Thebes could stand to witness. So instead of dealing with it they wither ignored it or in Oedipus took their visual mobility away. Above all, Sight was an evil, tormenting monster that brought the people truth and anguish.

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Oedipus the King by the Greek. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved July 22, 2024 , from

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