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October 06, 2006

Sam's Oedipus Quote Commentary

Samantha Giraud
Section 004
“LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT never again flood these eyes with your white radiance, oh gods, my eyes. All, all the oracles have proven true. I, Oedipus, I am the child of parents who should never have been mine—doomed!” Oedipus, Page 77

In the repetition of the word “light” in the first three words of the passage, it at first seems that Oedipus is begging for light. However, as one reads on, it becomes clear that rather than yearning for light, he forbidding it from gracing him with its presence. The adjective “white” is used to show purity and innocence while “radiance” can be thought of as almost a synonym for happiness and vivaciousness. Once he has found out his real history, Oedipus realizes that his own innocence and life are gone and can not stand to see the light anymore due to its stark contrast to his own existence. When he says that the oracles have been proven true, Oedipus is confirming that he knew of this prophecy and tried to run from it. In the next sentence, Oedipus speaks in almost parallel form to in the beginning when he once again overuses the first person saying, “I am king. I had to come....Everyone everywhere knows who I am: Oedipus. King.” However, at this point he is speaking from the standpoint of actually knowing his past and what he has done while in the beginning it was everyone else who knew who he was and not himself. Finally, Oedipus says that his parents should never have been his because he knew that his relationship with his blood parents was not a good or natural one. He therefore decides that they should have never been his parents in the first place because, as things played out, he betrayed them both as they did to him in the beginning of the whole story. His last word is simply “doomed” which implies that he was star-crossed from the beginning to end up where he did.

Posted by samlily at October 6, 2006 10:18 PM


This is good as far as it goes, but you could probably have paid more attention to the actual words themselves and how they are organized. For example, what to make of the repetitions ("all", "all" and "I", "I") in addition to the repetition of "light"? Are they the indication of a man struggling with his emotions? Something else? On what occasions do we feel like repeating a word? How to interpret this?

Posted by: bhattach at October 9, 2006 01:17 AM

This quote would have great significance to the Greeks in that it emphasises that no human, not even one so great as Oedipus, can escape the design of the gods. Oedipus tried to uncover the truth of the murderer, and the light, "white," pure and always revealing, proved Oedipus for who he really was. Now that Oedipus has discovered the horrible truth, he can bear it as he cries, "never again flood these eyes" and then stabs them out. When Oedipus declares, "I, Oedipus, I am the child of parents..." he is declareing the coming true of the oracles foretold, even though his parents tried to intervene in fate by killing Oedipus, and Oedipus tried to escape the fate of slaying his father and sleeping with his mother by fleeing Corinth, Oedipus had unwillingly run straight to his doom.
Again, this belief of being controled by the gods was central to the conduct of their lives.

Posted by: lacaga at October 9, 2006 12:49 PM

As Sam pointed out, the attention to "LIGHT" is very striking. First, the fact that the words are repeated three times in capital letters reveals the very intentional placement of these words. When a word is repeated, it emphasizes something significant that the author is trying to display in the passage, and brings it to the readers attention. Sometimes when repetition is used, the rest of the passage often an elaboration on the repetition. Sophocles most likely does this here to differentiate between the other times he used the word "light" in the play (when Oedipus is searching for truth) and the finding of truth (a new sense of "light").

In the beginning, Oedipus is seeking the "light" (and he does not know what he will find), but at this point he has found the "light" or the "white radiance." This is very interesting since repeated words bring clarity to a passage just as the truth about Oedipus is now clear.

Posted by: romie at October 9, 2006 02:28 PM

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