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In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, a plague has crippled the city of Thebes. The Priest of Zeus calls upon Oedipus to find out the cause of the plague so that restitution might be made to stop the disease to Thebes as a punishment.
The priest notes where Oedipus might learn the cause of the plague:
And now, Oedipus, greatest in the eyes of all,
we who are here as your suppliants beseech you
to find some defense for us, as you may have heard
the voice of one of the gods or have learned
something from a man—for I think that the ideas
of experienced men most often succeed. (44-49)
The priest is noting that the great Oedipus may well know something having been told by the gods. Or perhaps Oedipus, as an experienced and wise man, may have heard something not from a god but from a man.
The priest believes that the ideas of "experienced men" will often achieve success where others do not. He calls Oedipus "the first of men" (36). The priest is mindful that Oedipus did save Thebes by answering the riddle of the Sphinx. The priest has faith that Oedipus will be able to help the city of Thebes—and he hopes it will happen soon. For if the death toll continues to rise, Oedipus will have no subjects to rule.
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