When Oedipus publicly declares his intention to solve the mystery of King Laius's murder, he says, "I'll start again—I'll bring it all to light myself." Oedipus's vision and intelligence have made him a great king of Thebes—he solved the riddle of the Sphinx and revitalized the city. But he is blind to the truth about his own life. It takes the blind prophet, Tiresias, to point out his ignorance and to plant the first seeds of doubt in Oedipus's mind. When Oedipus mocks Tiresias's blindness, Tiresias predicts that Oedipus himself will soon be blind. And indeed, when Oedipus learns the full story—that he has killed his father and married his mother—he gouges out his eyes. He learns the nature of fate and the power of the gods, but at a great cost. And though he is blinded, he has learned to see something he could not see before.
Sight vs. Blindness ThemeTracker
Sight vs. Blindness Quotes in Oedipus Rex
you all know me, the world knows my fame:
I am Oedipus.
a lone man unknown in his crime
or one among many, let that man drag out
his life in agony, step by painful step—
I'll bear mine. It's better that way,
please believe me.
you and your birds, your gods—nothing.
No, but I came by, Oedipus the ignorant,
I stopped the Sphinx! With no help from the birds,
the flight of my own intelligence hit the mark.
be rooted from the earth as brutally as you.
he will grope his way toward a foreign soil,
a stick tapping before him step by step.
whether a seer can fathom more than I—
there is no test, no certain proof
though matching skill for skill
a man can outstrip a rival. No, not till I see
these charges proved will I side with his accusers....
Never will I convict my king, never in my heart.
straight on course. Now again, good helmsman,
steer us through the storm!
no skill in the world,
nothing human can penetrate the future.
born for the brilliant vault of heaven—
Olympian Sky their only father,
nothing mortal, no man gave them birth,
their memory deathless, never lost in sleep:
within them lives a mighty god, the god does not
now our masters strike them off the rolls.
Nowhere Apollo's golden glory now—
the gods, the gods go down.
count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.