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Essay/Term paper: Oedipus - why didn't his foster parents tell him the truth

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Oedipus

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Oedipus the King

Why Didn't His Foster Parents Tell Him The Truth?

Oedipus the King is the story of a man who was betrayed. Betrayed by the very people who gave him life and the very people who raised him.

Oedipus was born to Laius and Jocasta the king and queen of Thebes. When Oedipus was born, they consulted an oracle that told them that he would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. Fearing for their safety and the safety of their kingdom they had a servant take the infant to the mountains and leave him on the mountain to die. The servant felt sorry for the infant and gave him to a shepherd who in turn gave him to Polybus and Merope the king and queen of Corinth, who raised him as their own. When Oedipus was older, some men at a banquet who were drunk told him that "I am not my fathers' son". (860) Oedipus confronted Polybus and Merope and they were enraged by these accusations. They convinced Oedipus that the accusations weren't true, "so as for my parents I was satisfied (865). However, something was still gnawing at him. He consulted an oracle for himself and the oracle told Oedipus what the oracle told Laius and Jocasta. After he heard that prediction, he left Corinth never to return.

If Polybus and Merope had told him the truth when Oedipus came to them he wouldn't have left Corinth and have set into motion this tragic chain of events. What were Polybus and

Merope afraid of? Where they afraid of how Oedipus would have reacted if he knew that they weren't his birth parents, did they think that he wouldn't have understood and wouldn't have appreciated what they did for him. I think that Polybus and Merope have to share some of the blame for this mess, because they were not truthful.

Oedipus thought he had avoided the curse by going the Thebes. By defeating the sphinx, he was the hero of the town. He was doing a noble thing by wanting to help his country by trying to find out who or what was causing this plague. When Oedipus finds out the truth he resists it, but he was relentless in his pursuit of it, He wanted to discover the truth in order to help his people but he refuses to believe that he's the cause of it, "What are you saying - Polybus was not my father? Then why did he call me son? You were a gift years ago - know for a fact he took you from my hands" (1114). Oedipus tried to avoid the prophecy he heard, and it ended up costing him almost everything "O god - all come true, all burst to light! O light - now let me look my last on you! I stand revealed at last - cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage, cursed in the lives I cut down I with these hands" (1307). He should have just stayed in Corinth and made a life for himself rather than try to get away from those silly predictions, his life may have been a completely different story. As he destroyed the sphinx by answering its riddle, he destroyed himself by answering the riddle of his own birth. We are all born into a world we did not choose or create, stumbling blindly toward self-awareness and often knowingly deny who we are for shame or sake of others.


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