Motifs

Blindness 

Blindness is an important motif in the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles. The process of revelation that is unrolled in the play, which is organized as an investigative process with interrogation-like dialogues, is characterized by a pronounced metaphor of light and eyes. This is established in the individual sections of the work through multi-layered contexts of reference, building up an arc of tension that extends from the scene with Tiresias to the Exodus. 

When King Oedipus begins the dialogue with Tiresias, the prophet is well aware of the difference between seeing (with the eyes) and understanding (in the sense of recognition). Oedipus urges Tiresias to tell him the truth, and Tiresias gives in and reveals that Oedipus is the murderer of his own father. Oedipus, however, feels attacked by this claim and immediately suspects a plot between Creon and Tiresias, hinting that the two want to overthrow him. At the same time, he rejects what he had previously said about "seeing" and "understanding". Oedipus denies Tiresias the power to recognize the truth because of his blindness.

Oedipus closes his mind to the fact that Tiresias, despite being blind, has the ability to gain knowledge that defies human understanding, and instead mocks him. Tiresias then urges Oedipus to remember the difference between seeing and knowing: "So I say this to you, since you have chosen to insult my blindness— you have your eyesight, and you do not see how miserable you are, or where you live, or who it is who shares your household" (ll. 495-498).

In the course of the revelation of his fate, Oedipus has to go through a painful process of realization. He understands that his eyes have offered him only a limited understanding and actually blinded him from the truth

After blinding himself, Oedipus steps out of his palace in front of the audience, which corresponds to him stepping out of darkness into the brightness of truth

Oracle prophecies

The meaning of the oracle 

At the end of the play, it turns out that everything Oedipus has done in the past was predetermined by fate. Oedipus takes stock in shock: 

Ah, so it all came true. It’s so clear now. O light, let me look at you one final time, a man who stands revealed as cursed by birth, cursed by my own family, and cursed by murder where I should not kill. (ll. 1418-1422) 

After a long search, Oedipus realizes that he is the one he has been looking for. He is Laius’ murderer and at the same time his biological son. Oedipus was predestined by the propechy to kill his father and become the husband of his own mother. 

In order to understand the enormous importance of oracle prophecies at that time, it is important to discuss the significance of oracles in Ancient Greece. 

The myth says that the god Zeus once sent two eagles soaring, one of them in the east, one in the west of the country. At the place where they finally met,...

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