Explication of Oedipus The King

Explication of Oedipus King Page 1431-1432

The actions in these two pages happen during daylight before the royal palace in Thebes. Thebans of all ages have come pleading for help from the king sitting on the steps and the Orchestra. These people have Laurel and olive branches in their hands that are wrapped with wool as a sign of prayer and supplication.

“Old man-for it is fitting that you speak for all- what your mood as you entreat me, trust or fear? You may be confident that I will do anything. How hard of heart if an appeal-like this did not arouse my pity! (Sophocles 1431) In these statements, Oedipus addresses an older man he thinks should present the plight of other people in the palace. Oedipus addresses the man as an old man as a symbol of respect and wisdom. Like in many other cultures, old age is treated with respect and expected to show a lot of wisdom to the younger generations. Therefore, as he addresses him, he uses a tone of respect, assuring him that he need not fear anything; he should confidently present the people’s challenges.  

“ You Oedipus who hold power here you see our several ages who sit before your altars some not strong enough to take long flights, some heavy in old age the priests as I of Zeus and from our youth are chosen the rest with their windings in the markets at the shrines of Pallas and the prophetic embers of Ismenos.” (Sophocles 1432) Here the old priest begins to address the king as was instructed before. Using analogy to show the extent of their suffering, he compares the Oedipus who is at the palace enjoying power while the people suffer. The statement also uses two metaphors: not strong enough to take long flights and heavy in old age. These statements are used to indicate the extent of the sick’s suffering and the old back at home who could not make it to the palace. 

“Our city as you see yourself is tossed too much and can no longer lift its head above the troughs of billows red with death” (Sophocles 1432). In these lines, the priest starts the complaint of what brought them to the palace. In his words, he complains about the troubles facing the city. Using personification, he refers to the problems ailing the city, saying that it could not lift its dead as it is dead. 


Works Cited

Sophocles. Oedipus the King In Plain and Simple English: BookCaps Study Guide. BookCaps Study Guides, 2012.