The Punishment of Oedipus the King
The Penalty of Oedipus the King At the end of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, king of Thebes, ends up eradicated forever from his kingdom. In addition, Oedipus physically puts out his own eyes, for numerous reasons which will be discussed later on. The concern is: Did Oedipus deserve his punishments? There are lots of aspects that should be thought about in answering this, consisting of how Oedipus himself felt about his scenario. His blinding was as much symbolic as it was physical pain.
After all aspects have been thought about, I believe that just Oedipus’ banishment was the necessary punishment. It is important to remember the entire basic reasoning for Oedipus’ look for Laius’ killers: he wanted to put an end to a fatal pester, which pester would just be stopped when said murderer is eliminated, or driven from the land (pp 4-5). Thusly, when it is exposed that Oedipus himself murdered Laius, then banishment appears to be the only alternative. Death, in my mind, is not valid just due to the fact that of what it may do to the kingdom’s people.
Even though it appears that Oedipus has not been a particularly excellent queen, in reality his just major achievement appears to be killing the Sphinx all those years earlier, having a king put to death could have major consequences on the remainder of the kingdom. So in the end, the only method to treat the plague and keep the kingdom steady seems to be the banishment of Oedipus. In this case, the concern of whether he deserved to be penalized seems irrelevant; Oedipus’ only objective was to stop the pester and by leaving, he has achieved that goal. Banishment was the only choice.
But exactly what was Oedipus being punished for? Even after re- reading the play, this still appears to be a gray area. Incest? Unethical, to be sure, but Oedipus was obviously oblivious to his actions, and to my knowledge, in Sophoclean times, there was no written law versus it and for that reason no penalty for it. Oedipus’ punishment might have been for eliminating Laius, however how could you punish somebody for being a victim of fate? Greeks believed at the time of the play’s composing that a guy’s life was” woven” by the 3 fates (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) which he was irrevocably bound to that destiny.
Understanding this, and understanding that Oedipus became king of Thebes just due to the fact that it was his destiny to murder Laius and kill the Sphinx, how could he truly be punished? Even Oedipus himself knows that his actions are not by choice, but by acts of the gods, he discusses this twice in the play: “Some savage power has actually brought this down upon my head.” In addition to “My god, my god– what have you planned to do to me?” Such quotes clearly show that Oedipus understood that he had no choice in his actions. In this way and in this way alone, Oedipus is undeserving of stated punishment.
Oedipus might not have been a particularly good man, but in the end he understood what was best for his kingdom: “Out of this kingdom cast me with all speed” … for just that would save his former topics. Were that Oedipus’ only penalty, the play may have been a fair bit simpler (and this essay quite a bit shorter), but Oedipus, in a fit of rage, stabs his own eyes with Jocasta’s dresspins. This was Oedipus’ way of trying to penalize himself, as well as an escape. Oedipus would no longer gaze upon the faces of his subjects, his brother (uncle? Creon, and even those of his kids. He is plunged into a world of darkness. It needs to be kept in mind that this was more than simply a penalty, though I make certain that it was among the ways Oedipus planned it. The physical discomfort alone seems to prove that. There are a lot easier methods of becoming blind to the world than stabbing one’s eyes out. As I have stated prior to though, Oedipus was blinded by his foolish pride long prior to the beginning of the book. He only understood the fact behind Laius’ murder when it was right in front of his nose.
He was by no methods silly, in reality he came off as quite a smart man, but his was a world of loss of sight since of pride and power. I have been concentrating on the 2 most apparent of Oedipus’ punishments, but there is another one that might not seem so clear. Bearing in mind that Sophocles made it very clear that Oedipus was a guy of so much pride that he may have believed himself to be comparable to a god, was not Oedipus basically removed of that pride at the end of the play? The true penalty has actually been exposed.
Oedipus’ life was based on pride. It was what caused the murder of Laius, which in turn resulted in the killing of the Sphinx, which led to his ending up being king. As he continues his particular thread of life, Oedipus becomes increasingly more powerful, and as such, his pride also increases proportionately. He threatens both Tiresias and Creon, and solitarily tries to decipher the mystery of Laius’ death. What must go on inside his mind when he learns that not only did he murder his daddy, the king, however he likewise slept with his mother?
Knowing full well that his kingdom would eventually find out his acts, how could he hold his direct when walking through the city streets? How could his topics respect and revere a king who was a killer and commiter of incest? Oedipus is thusly removed of his pride, the driving force behind his whole character. He has actually been squashed, which he had so much of before has been rejected him. Where he was once at one extreme (hubris), he is now at the other. To take away the very thing that drives a guy is even worse than any physical discomfort and even death itself.
That is truly, as Sophocles meant it, Oedipus’ supreme penalty. When the curtain falls and the lights head out on Oedipus Rex, the king’s punishments amount to three. Though in my mind at least, one far outweighs the other 2, they are all important and they all add to the overall experience of the Greek disaster. In the end, I do not feel that Oedipus genuinely should have the punishments he is handed, but that is just because of the reality that I place myself in the time period that this was composed in, utilizing the beliefs of that time for my own.
Were this story to have actually happened in contemporary times, Oedipus definitely would have deserved his penalty, but this idea is irrelevant due to the fact that, rather just, this did not occur in our “advanced” civilization. Oedipus was a victim of fate, incapable of free will, and as such he must have not been penalized, conserve banishment only to treat the plague. The Penalty of Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex)