Compare And Contrast Of The Od

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Compare And Contrast Of The Od


Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Homer's Odyssey both deal on the topic of truth. In both
works the character Tiresias, a blind prophet, participates in the different journeys by
revealing various truths to the main characters. While the main importance of Tiresias in
The Odyssey is to show that truth can be helpful, his importance in Oedipus the King is to
attempt to discourage Oedipus on his journey to find the truth because he knows the truth
can be negative as well.

The first thing that should be examined is the different ways that Tiresias reveals the
truth in the two works. In The Odyssey, Tiresias is direct and to the point. He starts by
stating that 'A sweet smooth journey home … is what you seek, but a god will make it
hard for you.'; From what can be read, Tiresias feels no need 'sugarcoat' what he is
telling for two simple reasons. First, he came willingly to Odysseus, sugarcoating the
truth would be a waste of time. The second and more important reason is that he has good
news for Odysseus, relative to what has happened so far. On the other hand, in Oedipus the
King, Tiresias skirts around telling Oedipus the truth. In fact, he initially refused to
tell Oedipus anything at all, seen in such lines as 'You'll get nothing from me'; and
'I'll never reveal my dreadful secrets.'; The important thing is that when Oedipus got
Tiresias angered, Tiresias bluntly stated that '[Oedipus is] the curse, the corruption of
the land.'; When Oedipus responds to this, which will be discussed later, he continues to
berate Tiresias for 'lying'. Following that, Sophocles uses Tiresias to foreshadow the
rest of the play for the reader, while cryptically half-hiding and half-telling Oedipus
the truth, which is essentially ignored. The fact that Tiresias had to be summoned,
instead of coming on his own, and that Tiresias attempted to hide the truth from Oedipus,
shows that Tiresias was trying to protect Oedipus. He knew it would cause Oedipus harm in
the end. Tiresias' differing attitudes in the works serves as a parallel to how the truth
told in general. Truth that brings hope to people is normally easily given, but truth that
brings sadness or despair is generally told with caution and reluctance.

The reaction to the information given by Tiresias is also important due to its difference.
In Homer's work, Odysseus' reaction to the news is different than the joy that one might
normally expect. Instead of a reaction of happiness or joy, Odysseus simply asks how he
can communicate with his dead mother. But this in itself reveals something important.
Essentially, Odysseus is now aware that he has more than a good chance of returning home
soon, but still cannot be overjoyed because of stress that he has suffered so far. One
could say that he is simply not near as worried as he was before, essentially he now has
hope to arrive home to his wife and son because of Tiresias' revelation. Oedipus'
reaction, on the other hand, is much different from that of Odysseus'. Simply put, the
reaction to the truth that Tiresias reveals is utter disbelief and anger. Oedipus can not
comprehend that he could be the plague, so he accuses Tiresias aligned with Creon in a
part of a plot to overthrow him. The irony being that it is Oedipus the one searching for
the truth, but when it is told, he is to close-minded to see it. Eventually Oedipus finds
out the truth for himself and must realize that Tiresias was telling the truth, especially
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