Student Question

In Oedipus Episode 2 and Stasimon 2, what accusations does Oedipus make against Creon and how does Creon defend himself?

Quick answer:

Oedipus accuses Creon of plotting with Teiresias, the blind seer-prophet, to usurp Oedipus's crown. Creon denies the accusation and convincingly defends himself by claiming that he has no interest whatsoever in being king of Thebes, adding that anybody who wants to be king must be insane.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Teiresias has been summoned to Thebes by Oedipus to give his insight into the current situation regarding the investigation of the murder of Laius, Oedipus's predecessor as king of Thebes.

For reasons that soon become clear, Teiresias is reluctant to answer Oedipus's questions, and Oedipus grows increasingly angry at Teiresias for his lack of cooperation.

OEDIPUS. Yea, I am wroth, and will not stint my words,
But speak my whole mind. Thou methinks thou art he,
Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it too,
All save the assassination; and if thou
Hadst not been blind, I had been sworn to boot
That thou alone didst do the bloody deed.

Teiresias doesn't like Oedipus's tone, insults, threats, and accusations, and he tells Oedipus what he's been refusing to tell him.

TEIRESIAS. Is it so? Then I charge thee to abide
By thine own proclamation; from this day
Speak not to these or me. Thou art the man,
Thou the accursed polluter of this land.

Oedipus and Teiresias exchange a few more insults, and Oedipus accuses Teiresias of conspiring with Creon to tell lies about him, disgrace him, and take his throne from him.

OEDIPUS. ... for this crown
The trusty Creon, my familiar friend,
Hath lain in wait to oust me and suborned
This mountebank, this juggling charlatan,
This tricksy beggar-priest, for gain alone
Keen-eyed, but in his proper art stone-blind.

Not to be outdone, Teiresias adds insult to injury by accusing Oedipus not only of killing Laius, his father, but of marrying his mother, Jocasta.

Oedipus and Teiresias storm off the stage in opposite directions, which is to say that Oedipus storms into the palace, and a young boy leads the old, blind Teiresias carefully off the stage.

Oedipus doesn't think to challenge Creon's report from the Oracle, which he might easily have falsified, but focuses his ire on Teiresias and only incidentally defames Creon.

It's not long before Creon hears about the accusations that Oedipus made against him, and he's soon standing in front of the palace demanding to be heard.

Oedipus returns from the palace, and before Creon can challenge Oedipus's accusations, Oedipus starts questioning Creon about the investigation into Laius's death at the time it happened, hoping to exonerate himself from the murder, and to turn suspicion to Teiresias and Creon.

Creon is not so easily silenced or intimidated, and he makes a well-reasoned response to the accusation that he plotted with Teiresias to usurp Oedipus's crown.

As weakened leaders often do when they find themselves at a disadvantage, Oedipus responds with bluff and bluster, repeats his accusations, and gives Creon a choice between banishment and death.

Oedipus and Creon hurl insults at one another, and Jocasta comes from the palace to see what all the fuss is about. She listens to a quick summary of the issues and prevails on Oedipus to rescind his exile-or-death decree.

OEDIPUS. Well, let him go, no matter what it cost me,
Or certain death or shameful banishment,
For your sake I relent, not his; and him,
Where'er he be, my heart shall still abhor.

Even so, Creon can't let it go at that, and he gives a parting shot at Oedipus before he leaves the scene.

CREON. Thou art as sullen in thy yielding mood
As in thine anger thou wast truculent.
Such tempers justly plague themselves the most.

OEDIPUS. Leave me in peace and get thee gone.

CREON. I go,
By thee misjudged, but justified by these.

As to how well Creon acquits himself in his defense against Oedipus's accusations, it can be argued that, on the one hand, he says everything that an innocent man would and should say in his own defense. On the other hand, he says everything that a guilty man would and should say in his own defense.

Either way, he argues convincingly, but given the context in which these events occur—the utterly tragic downfall of Oedipus—Sophocles seems to advocate for Creon's innocence.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial