What is the role of the oracle and its importance in Oedipus Rex?

Expert Answers
Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The oracle tells Oedipus that he will murder his father and marry his mother.  A horrified Oedipus decides to leave home for good so that this prophecy could not come true.  What the oracle did not tell Oedipus was that the man and woman he thought to be his parents really weren't.  His real parents had been told the same prophecy when Oedipus was a child, so they had him dumped in the woods as an infant.  They didn't know that he'd been rescued and then raised by the neighboring king and queen as their own.  So when the adult Oedipus ran away to prevent the horrible prophecy, he ran into an arrogant man and his entourage while on the road.  An enraged Oedipus kills the man in a fight at a crossroads over who had the right of way; however, unbeknownst to anyone, the man was Oedipus' natural father.  This fulfilled the first part of the prophecy, but no one knew it yet.  When Oedipus got to Thebes, he managed to figure out the riddle of the Sphinx (thus saving Thebes from atrocities) and was awarded the kingdom.  The prior king had been killed on the road (Oedipus didn't make the connection), so he was then given the crown and the queen as his reward. The second part of the prophecy had then been fulfilled when he married her, not knowing she was his mother.  When they found out years (and 4 children) later, the queen hanged herself and Oedpius gouged out his eyes.  Without the oracle, Oedipus would not have left home.

missnicelady | Student

the oracle tells the family it's cruel fate. when a king or queen is questioning her future, the oracles ask the gods and goddesses what will be their fate. The oracles are like messengers from the gods/goddesses.

 I think that teacher is correct too!

 Go with what she said.


oh wait oops. you posted this on july fifth 2008.. ahh ha ha ..

nvm lol~