Oedipus Rex Essay

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Brittany Woodard Dr. Almquist ENG121- Section 06 16 September 2009 To Be or Not To Be Sophocles, the author of Oedipus Rex, defines the qualities of a true leader. True leaders are not necessarily through bloodline; instead, they are judged by their actions and deeds. Because Oedipus was born into royalty, is he a true leader? The answer is contradictory. Throughout the play, Oedipus is widely concerned with his idealized image as the savior of Thebes. He is introduced in the play as a hero, and he is pressured by the citizens and priests of Thebes to maintain that image. Although it may seem contradictory to argue that even though Oedipus is acting on his own self-interest by taking upon the role as Thebes’s savior, he is selfless in doing so. At the start of the play, Oedipus is viewed as the hero of Thebes and is forced to maintain his image when the priest enjoins him to save the plague-ridden Thebes. Oedipus then responds: My poor children, what you desire is known and not known to me, for I see well that everyone is sick, and being sick, still, not one of you is as sick as I am. For your pain comes upon the individual, one by one, to each man alone and no other, but my souls groan for the city, for me and you together. […] I would surely be an evil man not to do whatever the god reveals. (63-82) In this speech, Oedipus takes upon himself the role of saving Thebes, not only for the benefit of the people but also for himself. Despite his self motivation to preserve his idealized image, he displays all the qualities of a notable leader when he quickly sends for Tiresias to help him deal with the both the sufferings of the people and the murder of Laius. In this moment, he shows compassion for his people, a desire for justice, swiftness in thoughts and in actions, and obedience to the gods’ wishes. However, when

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