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.
October 06, 2006
Sam's Oedipus Quote Commentary
“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.
Charina's quote commentary on Oedipus
"Oedipus the King"
page 31 lines 233-240
"the death stain spreads
so many corpses lie in the streets everywhere
nobody grieves for them
the city dies and young wives
and mothers gray-haired mothers wail
sob on the alter steps
they come from the city everywhere mourning their bitter days"
In this passage, the chorus (the elders) are speaking of the plague which is ruining their city. This quote is significant in that it could symbolically represent human nature. Sophocles makes a contrast between the emotions surrounding the dying people (none) and those people feel for themselves (they are mourning). Throughout the play, although Oedipus is concerned with fulfilling the prophecy, one gets the sense that he is more concerned with himself-he accuses Kreon of conspiring against him and also of having killed Laios. Rather than being concerned about his people suffering from the plague or the death of their past king, Oedipus is concerned for himself-his reputation or image to the Thebans. This quote is representative of how people can be more concerned about their own lives than of those who are already in trouble.
Jenny's Quote Commentary on Oedipus
“I am afraid, afraid
Apollo’s prediction will come true, all of it,
as god’s sunlight grows brighter on a man’s face at dawn
when he’s in bed, still sleeping,
and reaches into his eyes and wakes him.” (p.68, lines 1273-1277)
Oedipus makes this statement in the presence of the messenger after he has discovered the death of Polybos and is reevaluating the truth of the prophecy.
This quote depicts Oedipus’ fear of discovering the inevitable truth of his past and future. He describes the appearance of light onto one’s eyes to metaphorically represent the acquisition of knowledge. Throughout the play, vocabulary describing light and brightness are used interchangeably with understanding, while the repetition of the word blind signifies the lack thereof. Oedipus relates his current state of informational blindness to that of a man sleeping with his eyes closed, thus shut off to reality. The sunlight comes to him slowly with increasing brightness, like the attainment of awareness that leads to Oedipus’ revelation. This quote also indicates Oedipus’ gradual loss of confidence and suspicion over his fate. The syntax of the passage causes Apollo’s prediction to be interpreted as a fact in addition to something that Oedipus fears by proclaiming its validity on a single line (1274). The fact that Oedipus will unravel the truth is as unavoidable as the occurrence of ‘god’s sunlight’ each morning. Oedipus can fear the truth, but he cannot evade its discovery.
Alyssa's Quote Commentary on Oedipus
CompLit Sec 004
"Oedipus the King"
Chorus: “Oedipus I have said this many times
I would be mad helpless to give advice
If I turned against you now
You took our city in her storm of pain
Straightened her course found fair weather
O lead her to safety now
If you can” (Sophocles 55, lines 915-922)
Oedipus cannot stop, and he cannot be stopped. He is like a ship on autopilot, so while he has a hand in his fate, his course is nonetheless pre-determined. When the plague is upon Thebes like a storm, Oedipus, being the great hero and “problem-solver” that he is, is confident that he can save the city and again “find fair weather.” Despite warnings to stop seeking the truth, Oedipus plunges onward, trying to take control of the “ship” manually. Oedipus feels the necessity to be the determining force in his own fate (“ship”) and is also alluded to as the captain of the “ship” (otherwise known as Thebes) that is headed for disaster. Ironically, it is a disaster toward which he is intent upon sailing. The chorus expects that Oedipus can lead the city through her “storm of pain” to safety because he solved the riddle of the Sphinx, but in the end, Oedipus is exiled and essentially “thrown overboard” from the ship he once guided.
This fits nicely with the Greeks’ beliefs that the sea is untamed. Sophocles references this later in the play when Oedipus says, “…what tide breaks over my life?” (Sophocles 84), and clearly Oedipus is no match for the god that controls the sea.
Grant's Quote Commentary on Oedipus the King
"terror's in me flooding me
how can i judge
what the god Apollo says
trapped hoping confused
I do not see what is here now" (Sophocles 45)
Though the most powerful lines in this play often come from grave, huge forecasts of impending doom, this passage strikes me as being refreshingly introspective. In this way, the passage takes on the themes of this play in an equally refreshing way. Mainly, this passage deals with fate and how this infinite force affects us weak mortals. Although this line seems more fit for Oedipus to say, Sophocles uses the chorus. This line speaks for Oedipus, for the play, and for all really. How are we to go on knowing the little stake we have in life? The words that appear that explode off the page are "terror's," "trapped," "hoping," and "confused" -- all used in the most negative context. How can a mortal judge what a god says? We are all trapped in our fate. The most speaking line however is "I do not see what is here now." The play feasts on dramatic irony, or what is there, but can not be seen. At all times in life, we are not seeing what is there. We are blind. Oedipus is blind. Great line.
Emma Morris Quote Commentary for Oedipus
“O marriage, marriage, you gave me my life, and then
from the same seed, my seed, spewed out
fathers, brothers, sisters, children, brides, wives –
nothing, no more words can express the shame.
No more words. Men should not name what men should
Never do.” (p. 88, lines 1824-1829)
This passage occurs toward the end of Oedipus Rex, after Oedipus has discovered that he has fulfilled his dreadful fate, and has subsequently blinded himself.
After summarizing his monstrous and fateful deeds, Oedipus states that his marriage to Jocasta has not only been his great advantage in life – he has become king of Thebes because of this union – but has also been his tragic demise. By repeating “marriage” and “seed” Oedipus reveals the double-consciousness of his fate. Oedipus refuses to mediate his grief and shame through words, contending words they are a limiting and horrifying medium for shame -- that men should not speak of things they should “never do” because to speak these words would render their fates real, solid, and fixed. This repetition of “no more words,” finally, reveals Oedipus’s inability to master or combat his fate – which was essentially composed entirely of the Oracle’s words.
October 05, 2006
Lindsey's Oedipus Quote Commentary
for someone careful, afraid he’ll fall.
But a mind like lightning
stumbles.” (Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 51)
This passage is said by the Leader after Oedipus had accused Kreon of murdering Laios. The interesting part of this passage is, “a mind like lightning stumbles.” The leader is comparing the human mind with a quick, powerful force of nature. The leader is therefore implying that a quick, brilliant, and powerful mind can actually lead one to stumble. Stumbling is a human act of missing a step. Stumbling of the mind can occurs when one’s thought process misses a key point or idea. This passage is interesting because it brings up a theme of knowledge in the play. Even a mind that is powerful and brilliant, like lightning, can err. Oedipus has a brilliant mind because he is able to solve the riddle of the sphinx. He further shows his knowledge by actively pursuing the truth to the plague of Thebes. However, his mind like lightning is oblivious to his own fate, and therefore stumbles.