Is there any common pattern of behavior exhibited in Oedipus's encounters with Laios, Teiresias and Kreon? Justification for his anger with Tiresias? For his suspicion of Kreon? Why?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Oedipus describes his encounter at the place where three roads meet to his wife (and mother), Jocasta, he tells her,

When traveling near that very triple road,
A herald and a man riding there
in a chariot, like the man you described,
encountered me. Both the one in front
and the old man himself drove me from the road
with force. In my anger I struck the driver,
turning me off the road, and the old man,
when he saw, watched me as I passed the chariot
and struck me on the head with the two-pronged goad. (lines 829-837)

In other words, when Oedipus encountered Laius, and his servant, at the intersection of the three roads, Laius himself ("the old man") somewhat violently forced Oedipus off the road. Oedipus became enraged, striking the driver down—it seems, killing him—and then Laius hit Oedipus over the head with a big weapon. After this, Oedipus apparently took Laius's own weapon, striking Laius and throwing him from the chariot. Oedipus says then, "I killed them all" (841). In terms of temper, it seems, like father like son. Oedipus is quick to anger and take offense, just as Laius was.

Oedipus becomes similarly angry, and rash, when he addresses Teiresias and Creon. When Teiresias tries to protect Oedipus from the painful truth that the seer knows, he says,

None of you understand, but I shall never
reveal my own troubles, and so I shall not say yours. (346-347)

Instead of being grateful for the prophet's wisdom or deferential to his god-given ability to divine the future, Oedipus accuses Teiresias of deceit. The king says,

What are you saying? You will not explain
what you understand, but rather intend
to betray us and destroy the city. (348-350)

It isn't even a question; he bluntly accuses Teiresias of trying to harm him, personally, and the city, generally. Soon, he begins to call the seer names and tell him that he "dishonor[s] the city." In the face of Oedipus's terrible anger, Teiresias not only names the quality but also remains relatively calm, at least for a while. Creon returns, having heard that Oedipus has accused him of treachery, of trying to steal his throne, with Teiresias as his accomplice. Oedipus hurls insults and accusations against Creon, providing yet further evidence of his anger and rashness. Worse yet, there is no real evidence pointing to any guilt on the part of Teiresias or Creon; Oedipus alienates people who are actually trying to help him.

cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oedipus is hotheaded and quick to anger.When he encounters Laios at the intersection of three roads, Oedipus believes that the king is trying to force him off the road so he retaliates violently, killing the king and all but one of his entourage. Teiresias offers information that Oedipus doesn't want to hear---he is the murderer that he seeks--so he is angry with the old man. Oedipus even accuses of the prophet of conspiracy with Kreon to overthrow him as king. Kreon is completely innocent of any such designs on the throne; he's been sent by Oedipus to the Oracle at Delphi for information about how to solve the plague in Thebes. Kreon even explains to Oedipus that he has no need to be king because he currently enjoys all the benefits of royalty without the responsibilities, yet Oedipus becomes paranoid and accuses him, too, of conspiracy. When Oedipus is confronted by anything he doesn't like, he is likely to respond with anger and even violence.

Read the study guide:
Oedipus Rex

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