What did the clairvoyant Teiresias' suggest when he states to Oedipus, "How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be, when there's no help in truth!"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Teiresias implication is fairly direct.  He intends on revealing to Oedipus that the role of fate is larger than that of the king's autonomy.   In the statement, Teiresias argues that knowing the truth is independent of being able to change it.  This is a significant pivot from Oedipus' own belief and faith in himself, a position that suggests once truth is known and understood, advancement and progress is almost inevitable.  Teiresias brings out the idea that Oedipus is weaker and unable to do anything about the elements that have been put in motion long before him.  In the idea that there "is no help in truth," the blind seer implies that Oedipus has to accept his own limitations, and his own constraints on being able to alter that which is unalterable.  The meaning of the statement becomes a critical moment in the drama when fate is demonstrated to be much more compelling and much more powerful than free will.  In the statement, Oedipus own pathedic condition is revealed as one who will be able to know the truth but do nothing about it.  In this, the theme of free will vs. fate becomes evident through Teiresias' words.