Oedipus and the gods

The gods are always omnipresent in Greek drama, in the actions and thoughts of its characters. Right at the beginning of Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King, the inhabitants of Thebes are laying their laurel and olive branches on the altars in front of Oedipus' palace. 

The chorus invokes Zeus, Apollo, Athena, and Artemis during its entry (parodos) and asks these gods for help for the people suffering from the plague. In the third Epeisodion, Jocasta sacrifices at the altar of Apollo. Oedipus has sent Creon to Delphi to the oracle of Apollo to ask for help. 

However, Oedipus must go through the process of self-knowledge on his own and without the help of the gods. In this context, he must also recognize that his own human mind is void, quite unlike Tiresias’, from whom the omnipotence of the gods speaks in the words of Apollo. Nevertheless, Oedipus invokes his human intellect when he recalls that he once solved the riddle of the Sphinx all by himself and thus freed Thebes: 

And there the people saw your knowledge was no use— nothing from birds or picked up from the gods. But then I came, Oedipus, who knew nothing. Yet I finished her off, using my wits rather than relying...

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