The Oedipus Cycle
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Sophocles presents us with two men in the Oedipus Cycle, Oedipus, and his uncle Creon. Both are rulers of Thebes and share in their similarities as kings, fathers, and deservers of their fate; yet their similarities are few, while their differences number. Although Oedipus and Creon share these similarities: political, familial and religious (that is to say their gods and fate) their lives are quite different. As kings, they both become rulers of Thebes by a twist of fate. Oedipus kills the sphinx and becomes king. After his exile, his sons kill each other, leaving Creon king. Both have sons that disrespect them. Oedipus's sons turn a blind eye as he is banished from Thebes. "These were the two / who saw me in disgrace and banishment/ and never lifted a hand for me" (Oedipus Rex: 108). Haimon threatens Creon's life and vows that Creon will never see him again. "And you will never see my face again. / Go on raving as long as you've a friend to endure / you" (Antigone: 223).
Is this indecent? She kept him from dogs and vultures. Is this a Crime? Death? - She should have all the honor that we Can give her!' This is the way they talk out there in the city. (Antigone: 218-219) Haimon tells his father that the people of Thebes disagree greatly with his edict and his punishment of Antigone. So much so that even the son of the king hears some of their whispering. As a father, Oedipus begets children by his own mother; thus, his children are his siblings as well. Creon's son, Haimon, is just that, his son. He is not his father's brother as well. Those of Oedipus children who were present when he died cried and lamented his death. "I wish that charnel Hell would take me / In one death with our father. / This is such desolation / I cannot go on living" (Oedipus at Colonus: 168). Creon's son, toward the end, despises his father so much that he takes his own life. "But Haimon spat in his face.
That is why his sin, refusing to bury Polyneices, is so terrible. He knows this will doom Polyneices to never descend to the underworld and his final resting place. It is not until his exchange with Teiresias and the Choragus that he realizes his error, and by then it is to late. "Come with me to the tomb. I buried her, I / Will set her free. / Oh quickly! / My mind misgives -- / The laws of the gods are mighty, and a man must / serve them / To the last day of his life" (Antigone: 236)! And therein lies the dynamic. Two men of the same bloodline, alike in their actions and intent, but differing in fate; as magnets of different poles are driven by the same force, so too are the decisions of Oedipus and Creon. Their goal is the same: the betterment of Thebes. And, as those two magnets are opposites, these men are opposites: in life and fate. "Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of Irony." (Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix) Two Guys, a Kingdom, and a Nasty Fate By: Dustin McCrory ENGL 1159 Sec. 159 Kay Murphy Paper # 3 March 18, 2001 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1
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