Essential Quotes by Character: Oedipus

Essential Passage 1: Lines 410-418

So tell me, when are you the wise seer? (410)
How is it that, when the singing hound was here,
you never said how the citizens might be freed?
Even though the riddle could not be solved by
the first man who met it, but required prophecy.
But you did not come forth with this, knowing some clue (415)
from birds or gods; instead I came along,
the idiot Oedipus! I stopped her,
working from intellect, not learning from birds.


As the plague ravages the city of Thebes, Oedipus asks the prophet Tiresias to identify the cause of the plague. Tiresias has very reluctantly placed the blame on Oedipus himself. In anger, Oedipus rages against Tiresias for this accusation. Oedipus even accuses Creon, his brother-in-law and co-ruler, of plotting to remove Oedipus from the throne and thus retain the crown for himself. Boasting, Oedipus recalls how he saved the city of Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx (the singing hound) that had held Thebes captive in the absence of its previous ruler, Laius. It was not by the prophecies of old, nor the priests’ reading of omens in the flights of birds, nor not even by the gods that Thebes was saved. Instead, it was by Oedipus using his own intellectual strength to rid the city of the threat of the Sphinx.

Essential Passage 2: Lines 648-660

What do you want? To cast me from this land?
Hardly—I want you to die, not flee.
You are the form of jealousy. (650)
You speak neither to concede nor to persuade?
For I see well that you do not understand.
I understand my own affairs well enough.
You must know mine equally well.
Not when they are false! (655)
Do you understand nothing?
Yet, there must be rule.

(The entire section is 1151 words.)