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October 07, 2006

Marquita's Commentary on Oedipus The King

"Wisdom is a curse
when wisdom does nothing for the man who has it." Oedipus p. 37 (lines 429-430).

This passage speaks of the value of wisdom, but also the curse of wisdom. Teiresias states that wisdom is a curse when it does nothing for its possesor. This means that there comes a responsibility with wisdom-- if a man is so lucky to posess wisdom , he is then somehow obligated to utilize that wisdom in a resourceful manner. This idea of a responsibility that comes with wisdom relates to an important theme of the play; that is, the responsibility that comes with knowing. In this play, as opposed to the other stories that we have read, there is a definite responsibility that comes with wisdom and knowledge. In this way, the things that were once considered good (namely wisdom and knowledge) now have the potential to be evil and/or dangerous. Depending on what one does with their knowledge/wisdom, it could either be a blessing or a curse. In the case of Oedipus, wisdom and knowledge prove to be more of a curse than a blessing, which I feel truly defines this story.

Posted by burkmar at October 7, 2006 02:03 PM


Although the passage represents a core idea of the play, the passage itself is probably not "meaty" enough to do a close reading on. Notice how you've been forced to spend all your time on how this passage relates to the rest of the play, rather than on the passage itself -- because the passage itself is rather thin in what it offers to the reader. You may want to choose richer passages in the future which would offer a more rewarding close reading.

Posted by: bhattach at October 9, 2006 01:49 AM

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