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Oedipus Paper Essay, Research Paper

One of Oedipus greatest qualities as a leader was his ability to solve problems. The reason that Oedipus, not even a native of Thebes, became the king of that land was due to the great intelligence and strength shown in his defeat of the Sphinx. He was able to save the Thebans from that problem, so when the city again needs help, Oedipus is very willing to show his strength again. Oedipus vanity in his ability to solve problems was the leading cause of his ruin.

It is evident that Oedipus has a great ability to solve problems through the references made to his success with the Sphinx. He brags about being able to solve the Sphinx s riddle when no one else could. This puts him at a higher level than everyone else, where Oedipus believes that he is almost godlike. When the hellcat the Sphinx was performing here, what help were you to these people? Your birds- what help were they? Or the gods Oedipus says to Teiresias, the prophet (pg. 21). He believes that neither the prophets nor the gods could help the town with the Sphinx s riddle, but that he was more intelligent, and was able to solve the problem on his own. This gave him more self confidence than he could handle and an overpowering ego.

It is this vanity in his own ability to succeed in being the saver of all, which leads him to discover the truth of his past. He has saved the town once before, and he is not willing to see his people fall. He dose everything to find a link to the murderer, and is so persistent, that he makes the prophet tell him what he thinks he wants to hear. When the prophet lies , Oedipus discredits him, and assumes someone is behind the whole scheme (pg. 18). Oedipus talked of the prophet as, no more clairvoyant than I am (pg. 20). Where again he compares himself with the gods and prophecies, and refuses to believe anything, but what he wants to hear. Later, of course, Oedipus discovers the entire truth, and takes complete blame. This is a problem he didn t want to solve. The truth probably would have come out eventually, but maybe not as Oedipus still reigned as king, or perhaps in a less dramatic way. Oedipus was in such a hurry to solve the towns problems, and once again become the Thebes hero, that he did not stop to consider his own involvement.

Oedipus greatest strength is what brought about the truth of his greatest weakness. His vanity and pride got in the way of him being a good king, and searching all possibilities. But in the end he pays miserably by having to wander the earth in darkness, needing to be helped by everyone instead of him being the great saver of all people and solver of all problems.

The bizarre question about this story is that no one questioned the king s murderer before the curse upon the town, especially Oedipus, the great problem solver. After a death of a king, you would think that the people would want revenge on the murderer, or at least know who did it. Also, Oedipus has reigned for so long, wouldn t he have asked his wife a few questions about the previous king, or how he died. Perhaps Oedipus was too caught up in his own newly gained position, that he was shadowed by his own excitement.


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