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.
Not if ruled badly!
O city, city!
The city is mine, too, not yours alone! (660)
Creon vehemently denies Oedipus’s charge of treason. At this point in the work, Creon holds the role of adviser, though he is one of the three named rulers of Thebes (along with Oedipus and Jocasta). Why would he want to be saddled with the pressures and burdens of ruling alone, he asks. His life is much easier, his sleep is much sounder, being in the shadows. Oedipus is the one who wants to rule alone, Creon states. When asked if he realizes he could be misjudging Creon, Oedipus in his pride says that being right is not important, just so long as he continues to rule. As Oedipus cries out to Thebes (“my city!”), Creon objects, stating...
(The entire section is 1154 words.)