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Scene 2 Notes from Oedipus the King

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Oedipus the King Scene 2

Oedipus appreciates the prayers of the elders, but asks them to also take his advice and listen to him, as he will provide relief from this disaster. He feels bound to this matter, and as he has earned his civic rights, he proclaims to all Thebans that he will reward the person who knows the man who killed Laios, and will not harm that man, but only exile him from the city.

Topic Tracking: Exile 1

However, should they keep silent, he commands that nobody associate themselves with that man. Oedipus continues to say that even if this matter was not god-inspired, he could not let it go, as Laios was noble, royal and murdered. He promises to avenge him the same way he would avenge his father, as he has married Laios' wife and has the same office as Laios had. He feels as if it was only Laios' body that was replaced. Therefore, he will do anything to find the assassin. He prays to the gods that the people who do not comply with his commands suffer worse than they already have in this plague, and that the gods bless those who do comply.

The elders say that they did not kill Laios nor know anyone who did, and that Oedipus cannot force the gods to do something they do not want to do, and therefore he can only learn the truth if the gods want him to. Furthermore, they suggest that Oedipus seek the advice of Tiresias, a blind prophet, which Oedipus says he has done. In fact, he is surprised that Tiresias has not shown up yet.

Topic Tracking: Sight 1

Oedipus also says that he will reexamine every rumor and story. As Oedipus is speaking, Tiresias enters and Oedipus turns his attention to explaining the situation to the blind man, in case he doesn't already know it. After doing this, he asks Tiresias to help him, and to help Thebes. Initially, Tiresias refuses to testify and regrets coming to the meeting. He says that by revealing what he knows, he will expose everyone else's anguish, but Oedipus argues that this means that he is betraying Thebes, and says that if Tiresias were not blind, he would not hesitate to say that he was the criminal. In response to this, Tiresias says that Oedipus is Thebes' "ungodly pollution" Line 353, and that Oedipus is Laios' murderer, and that that is the truth, even though he did speak against his will. In response to this, Oedipus becomes angry and says that Tiresias will regret ever saying that and that Tiresias is plotting with Creon to help Creon take over his throne. However, he urges Tiresias to continue, and as a result Tiresias states that Oedipus' love for his wife is shameful and thus Oedipus does not see his misery, and does not realize that his misery, and Thebes' misery, are because of him. He continues and criticizes Oedipus, for although Tiresias himself is blind, he believes that he can see the truth whereas Oedipus is blind with respect to where he lives and the people he lives with.

Topic Tracking: Sight 2

Also, Tiresias asks Oedipus whether he knows his own parents or not, and then continues to say that Oedipus will be driven out of Thebes in terror by the curses of his parents and that this has nothing to do with Creon or any plots.

Topic Tracking: Exile 2

Despite Oedipus' anger, Tiresias has no regrets, as he believes that there is strength in the truth and that everyone will see the light at the end. Oedipus orders Tiresias to leave, and Tiresias does so gladly, as he did not want to be there to begin with. Before leaving, however, he does say that this day will beget Oedipus' birth and destruction and that the man they are all looking for is in Thebes, "a resident stranger as it seems, but soon to be revealed as a native Theban." Line 451 He also prophesizes that this man will leave "blind, though now he sees - and poor, though now he's rich - he'll use a stick to guide his steps into another land," Line 454 and that "he'll be revealed a brother and a father to his children in his house, husband and son to her who gave him birth; wife-sharer and the killer of his father." Line 457 Tiresias prophesizes that Oedipus will be revealed to be the killer of his own father and lover of his own mother.

Topic Tracking: Sight 3
Topic Tracking: Fate 2

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