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Oedipus and Hubris

1. Hubris is defined in The American Heritage« Dictionary of the English Language as ôoverbearing pride or presumption; arrogance.ö This term aptly applies to the character of Oedipus in the play Oedipus Rex, because Oedipus is so full of pride that he is blind to the reality of his true identity and what he has done. Oedipus boldly declares that he will find his fatherÆs murderer, completely unaware that he himself murdered his father. He even imposes a curse on the murderer (and thus on himself), ending with the resolve that if the murderer enters his home, then ôI pray the curse I laid on others fall on me.ö

Oedipus attempts to persuade the blind prophet Teiresias to reveal the identity of the murderer, and Teiresias first refuses to do so, saying that Oedipus will find out soon enough. However, Teiresias subsequently tells him the truth. Oedipus is so filled with hubris that he refuses to believe the revelation even after it has been given to him and stubbornly insists on trying to locate the murderer. Only later, after finding out that the murder occurred where three roads cross (the same spot where he had killed a man), does he realize that he himself is the murderer. Until then, hubris blinds him to the truth, enrages him when the truth dares to present itself, and effectively helps him to see his world the way he wants it to be rather than the way it really is.

2. Teiresias is the blind prophet in the play; he is able to ôseeö in a spiritual sense and divine the truth that is not apparent to those with seeing eyes. His role in Oedipus is important because he knows the truth about OedipusÆs identity. He realizes that Oedipus is unknowingly fulfilling the prophecy that was spoken over him at birth and that the events of OedipusÆs life are fated and will irrevocably play out.

Teiresias is also important for his symbolic value in the theme of sight versus blindness. While Oedipus is physical


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Oedipus and Hubris. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:17, February 25, 2017, from