Tiresias Acts in Both Antigone and Oedipus the King
John Smith Mrs. Barber English 2 Honors August 21, 2012 Tiresias “Not least among the achievements of this great age was the invention and perfection of an artistic medium which we take so unthinkingly for granted that we cannot imagine civilized life without it-the theater. ”(Knox 13) Sophocles was the most accomplished playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia.
The first of the three Theban plays to be written was Antigone which was believed to have been written around 441 B. C. , Secondly Oedipus the King around 430 b. c. , and lastly Oedipus at Colonus sometime near the end of Sophocles’ life in 406–405 b. c. However in chronological order, the plays go Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and lastly Antigone. The plays were all written and produced in Athens, Greece. Oedipus summons Tiresias to prophesize what he should do to help the city, but Tiresias knows what he has done and does not wish to prophesize for Oedipus.
First, Tiresias tries to hint at the mistake Oedipus has made but Oedipus’s pride is too great and he refuses to listen to Tiresias and blames him for the murder. You see this when Oedipus says “… You did the work, yes, short of killing him with your own hands- and given eyes I’d say you did the killing single-handed. ”(Fagles 178) Another time when Oedipus is blinded by his pride is when he is talking to Tiresias and Tiresias tells Oedipus of his own blinding. When see this when Tiresias says, “I pity you, flinging at me the very insults each man here will fling at you so soon. (Fagles 181) Finally once more after Oedipus is very unkind to Tiresias, Tiresias prophesizes what Oedipus’s life is and what it will be. We see this when Tiresias says, “… you’re blind to the corruption of your life… double lash of your mother and your father’s curse will whip you from this land one day… That day you learn the truth about your marriage, the wedding-march that sang into your halls, horrors you’d never dream… No man will ever be rooted from the earth as brutally as you. ”(Fagles 183) Tiresias makes Oedipus’s flaws obvious.
Like Oedipus, Tiresias comes to tell Creon of his mistakes and to give suggestions on what he should do to save himself from eternal suffering, but Creon’s pride leads to his downfall like Oedipus. First, Tiresias tells Creon of a vision he has had, Creon being the subject. We see this when Tiresias says, “… strange voice… unintelligible, barbaric, mad scream! ”(Fagles 111) Tiresias also comments that the Gods did not except his offering after he saw the vision. We see this when he very concerned says to Creon, “I turned quickly, tested the burnt- sacrifice, ignited the altar at all points- but no fire, the god in the fire never blazed. (Fagles 111) We also see Creon’s pride when Creon begins to get angry with Tiresias. We see this when Tiresias says, “Pride is a crime. ” And Creon, blinded with pride, goes and blames Tiresias by saying “You and the whole breed of seers are mad for money! ” But unlike in Oedipus Tiresias directly tells him his future, “… your own flesh and blood… the avengers, the dark destroyers… now lie in wait for you, the furies sent by the gods and the god of death to strike you down with the pains that you perfected! (Fagles 112-5) Tiresias makes Creon’s flaws obvious. In both plays Tiresias tries to plea with Creon and Oedipus’s reasoning and pride ,but instead both get mad at Tiresias. Also in both plays they blame Tiresias as if it were his fault and that he was spreading heresies toward the kings. However in Antigone, Tiresias flat out directly tells Creon of his future and what will happen to him, while in Oedipus the King, Tiresias indirectly tells his future ,but does not directly tell him because he does not wish to argue.
Tiresias acts as a voice of reason and acts as foreshadowing of upcoming events. Works Cited Knox, Bernard. “Greece and The Theatre. ” The Three Theban Plays. By Sophocles. New York: Penguin, 1982. 13-30 Print. _ _ _. “Notes on the Translation. ” The Three Theban Plays. By Sophocles. New York: Penguin, 1982. 395-414. Print. Sophocles. The Three Theban Plays. Translated. Robert Fagles. New York. Penguin, 1982. Print.