Stone Washington
Oedipus ordeal: defy truth or abandon injustice
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By Stone Washington
June 5, 2015

"He shall be found at once brother and father of the children with whom he consorts; son and husband of the woman who bore him; heir to his father's bed, shedder of his father's blood."

~ Teiresias, the blind prophet, Oedipus Rex

"Given time, you'll see this well, I know: you do yourself no good, not now, not years ago, indulging your rage despite the pleas of loved ones – blind rage has always been your ruin."

~ Creon to Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus

"A sinless sinner, banned awhile on earth, But by the dead commended; and with them I shall abide forever. As for thee, Scorn, if thou wilt, the eternal laws of Heaven."

~
Antigone

The distinguished playwright Sophocles (circa 496-06 B.C.) won many competitions for new plays; more than any other playwright in Athens, surpassing the works of Aeschylus and Euripides. Of his 125 plays only seven remain, the most celebrated being his Oedipus Trilogy. His plays are known for their strong plots, tightly knit structure, superb style, vivid portraits of tragic women and human conflicts, and insight into the way the world works. This essay is a comparative analysis between the Oedipus Trilogy and the Obama tragedy America faces today in modern times.

Oedipus Rex

The first story of the Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles begins with the country of Thebes suffering from a terrible plague. The crops and cattle are diseased and much of the population is dying out. The citizens look to their king, Oedipus to save them. The people trust in their king because of the incident years earlier with Oedipus challenging the legendary mythical beast known as the Sphinx (a mythological figure possessing the upper body woman and lower body of a lion with eagle wings), who terrorized the city of Thebes. The Sphinx posed an impossible riddle – "What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?" The correct answer was Man (starts off as a baby crawling, then as an adult walking, then as an elder with a cane), which Oedipus answered causing the Sphinx to kill itself in shame. Oedipus assures the people that he has already sent his brother in law, Creon to visit the Shrine of the sun god Apollo in hope that he will reveal how Oedipus can save Thebes from its adversity. The belief is that the city suffers because the assassin of the previous King Laius is still in Thebes unpunished.

Later Oedipus asks the people of Thebes if anyone knows who murdered Laius, and if anyone knows must speak up or forever be banished and scorned. A blind seer named Teiresias (sent by Creon) scolds the king on how it is he who has murdered his father Laius. He predicts that in the future Oedipus will become a blind beggar and cast out of Thebes. Oedipus shuns the prophet, insulting his blindness, and accuses Creon of being a traitor, believing he wants to take over the throne through false prophecies. The prophecy stated how King Laius would be killed by three robbers at a three-way intersection. Jecosta recalls how she and Laius abandoned their son on a hillside with his legs stitched together. Oedipus contemplates the possibility that he has killed his father and married his mother, as he fled from such a prophecy years ago.

A messenger tells Oedipus of how his father Polybus has died, which relieves Oedipus on the fulfillment of the prophecy (as he believes he hasn't killed his father). But the messenger reveals that Polybus and Merope are not Oedipus's real parents. This devastates the King and Queen, revealing that the prophecy has indeed been fulfilled. Some Elders at the temple sing about the short lived nature of human fame and fortune. Jacosta hangs herself and upon the sight Oedipus purposefully blinds himself with some brooches from her dress. Oedipus staggers out of the palace and tells the people he has blinded himself because he can no longer face his parents with dignity in life or in death. Creon promises to take care of Oedipus's daughters, Antigone and Ismene, and to bury Jacosta. The moral of the story is, "one never knows what the next day will bring."

Oedipus at Colonus

The sequel begins with the former king Oedipus; now an old frail man accompanied only by his young daughter Antigone, has been banished from Thebes and has wandered Greece for years. As Oedipus arrives at Colonus, a village by Athens, his other daughter Ismene arrives and tells how Oedipus's two sons are fighting over the throne in Thebes while Oedipus's uncle Creon currently holds the throne. Oedipus's older son Polynices has been exiled by his younger more powerful brother Eteocles, and now raises an army to retaliate. A prophecy is proclaimed that good fortune will come to whatever place Oedipus is buried at. His royal family in Thebes desires his return to the city because of this. Oedipus is angry at Creon, Polynices, and Eteocles due to the fact that they have deserted him in his time of need. Oedipus pleads to King Theseus, the legendary demi-god and hero of Athens, if he may be buried at Colonus. Theseus agrees but Oedipus warns against possible conflict between Athens and Thebes because of it.

Suddenly Creon arrives at Colonus with an army and abducts Antigone and Ismene because of Oedipus's refusal to go with him. But the mighty Theseus sends an army after them and returns with the daughters. Polynices apologizes for the trouble he's cause his father and wonders if he could accompany him to defeat Eteocles. An oracle predicts that whomever Oedipus helps will win the battle. Oedipus is furious and refuses, predicting that both sons will die in battle. Suddenly thunder and darkness alert everyone that Oedipus's death is approaching. Oedipus tells Theseus that his burial will be kept secret protected by gods and only known by Athenian royalty. As Theseus promises to take care of Antigone and Ismene, Oedipus dies.

Antigone

In the final chapter of the Oedipus Trilogy the story continues after the death of Oedipus and now the death of his two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, who died in battle over the throne of Thebes. Creon decrees that since Polynices, although royalty, should not be buried because he fought as an enemy against the kingdom. Antigone defies Creon and buries her brother's body as religion and family honor demands. Creon argues with Antigone, advocating the priorities of civil and divine law. Creon is then so enraged with Antigone's rebellion that he ignores divine law and punishes her by sealing her in a cave. Haemon, Creon's son and Antigone's fiancé, begs his father to reconsider this punishment, but Creon refuses.

Teiresias, the blind prophet tells Creon that the gods are angered by his treatment of Polynices body and that if Antigone dies, Haemon will die and Thebes will be punished. Fearing the consequences, Creon reburies Polynices and hurries to the cave where Antigone is imprisoned. But it is too late as Antigone has taken her own life. Soon a messenger arrives and proclaims that Creon's wife, Queen Eurydice has committed suicide. This scene reminds me of the Classical composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-87) in his famous opera, Orfeo ed Euricide, has a transcendent aria lamenting her death (Che Faro Sensa Eurydice [What shall I do without my Eurydice?]). While weeping over Antigone's body, Haemon attacks Creon with a sword but accidentally stabs himself with it, dying as a result. In the end Creon repents of his sins, and the gods sing that "great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and in old age, teach the chastened to be wise."

Oedipus for Modern Times

This timeless Greek tragedy is tied into many lessons our world faces today. The most obvious connection of the ancient Oedipus Trilogy to modern times lies in the famous psychoanalytic theory known as the Oedipus Complex, created by the famous psychiatrist and "Father of Psychoanalysis," Sigmund Freud. The Oedipus Complex explains how every child experiences a stage in life where they fall in love with the parent of the opposite sex and seek to replace the parent of the same sex. Although similar, Freud's theory is an inversion of how King Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother, especially since Oedipus tried to avoid this horrible fate and blinded himself from reality after coming to realization of his deed. I believe that children would never have hostility against a parent in jealousy for another parent unless they feel neglected in a family relationship and seek attention from the most sympathetic parent (usually the one of opposite gender); hence the terms "Daddy's girl" and "Momma's boy" is derivative. Failure to satisfy this Oedipal Complex is one of the causes of homosexuality according to Freud.

The dubious history of Oedipus strongly resembles that of the current president Barack Obama. In the compelling film, Dreams from My Real Father, Obama's true lineage is revealed through his hidden father Frank Marshall Davis, a communist propagandist and radical revolutionary, who during Obama's formative years secretly schooled Obama shaping much of his present day Socialist-Progressive philosophy. Obama represents Oedipus in that he "killed" his father by hiding away any trace of his Communist past and attempting to rewrite his future with a new, phony father, Barack Obama Sr., just as Oedipus was raised by foster parents and killed his own father while trying to change his fate. But like Oedipus, Obama can't forever hide his own Communist background (destiny) as more and more lawless actions and Socialist tendencies give merit to Obama's true origins and will inevitably explode and tarnish his legacy, hopefully amounting to a much deserved impeachment before the 2016 elections.

Likewise Polynices represents the failed, feckless, cowardly Conservative opposition to Obama's tyrannical lawlessness while Eteocles represents the detrimental results of Obama's reign in office, both elements systematically deconstructing Thebes (America), as the country brings about its own ruin. Antigone represents the 2012 election, the hope this nation once had of possible salvation from the horrors brought about by the Socialist demagogue if America had voted Republican. But along with the chance of early removal from office, Antigone is dead. Creon represents the Democrat Socialist Party, those who still perpetuate Obama's Communist methods from the shadows, yet reign in their lofty positions as the nation collectively descends into the abyss of anarchy, nihilism and lawlessness (as when Polynices and Eteocles battled over the throne).

America must come to realize her grave mistake of electing such a treacherous imperial Marxist as President. The Conservatives in Congress have the power to act against Obama and his administration by drafting Articles of Impeachment which according to the federal law under Article II of the U.S. Constitution (Section 4) states that "The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Yet like the Greek subjects bowing under evil reign of the tyrannical King Creon, the U.S. Congress has the constitutional power, but are too afraid to be marked as 'racist' or 'hateful' or 'partisan' by the Left, who predominately control the media. As a people united under the freedoms of our Democratic-Republic we must not allow this Oedipal tyrant President Obama to systematically pervert the blood and treasure of America's Founding Fathers and constitutional Framers as so many other Socialist presidents have done in the past (i.e., Woodrow Wilson's failed "League of Nations," FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society, Obama's Socialist medicine: "Obamacare"), etc...

Remember America, "People who do not act out of pride and stubbornness are wise people." Remember the hard choice of Antigone to follow the King's tyrannical law of man vs. Natural Law (from God): "A sinless sinner, banned awhile on earth, But by the dead commended; and with them I shall abide forever. As for thee, Scorn, if thou wilt, the eternal laws of Heaven."

Will we as a nation fall prey to the pride of a tyrannical government hell-bent on manipulating this once great nation? Or can we as a mighty people cast aside stubborn feelings clouding our judgment of the Left, and end the ongoing cycle of Socialism, Communism and Progressivism in America?

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on a synopsis of Sophocles' Oedipus trilogy contained in, Dr. W. John Campbell, Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics (Fall River, 2000), pp. 569-578

© Stone Washington

 

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Policy Studies Program at Clemson University Graduate School. Stone is also employed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson’s Department of Political Science. He is a recent graduate of the Juris Master program at Emory University School of Law (May 2020) and a graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Minor in Political Science (May 2019). While studying at Emory Law, Stone has been featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. Stone is the website administrator for Ellis Washington Report and a contributing writer. He recently completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader’s Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Many of Stone’s articles can be found at EllisWashingtonReport.com, which offer a critical analysis on prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds published on websites such as The Washington Times and Inside Sources. In addition to this, he has represented Project 21 in numerous radio interviews. During his undergraduate studies, Stone wrote for his school newspaper, the Tiger Town Observer, and the higher education news websites: Campus Reform, The College Fix, and Red Alert Politics. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneWashingto2 and Instagram. Contact Stone at his email: Stonebone20@att.net.


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