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Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King


by Sophocles

Oedipus the King Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Francis Storr's translation found on Project Gutenberg.

Quote #1

Where are they? Where in the wide world to find
The far, faint traces of a bygone crime?
In this land, said the god; "who seeks shall find;
Who sits with folded hands or sleeps is blind." (107-110)

Creon explains that if Oedipus seeks knowledge of the crime, he will find it. Creon speaks with a certainty here that is fateful in its confidence.

Quote #2

O wealth and empiry and skill by skill
Outwitted in the battlefield of life,
What spite and envy follow in your train!
See, for this crown the State conferred on me.
A gift, a thing I sought not, for this crown
The trusty Creon, my familiar friend,
Hath lain in wait to oust me and suborned
This mountebank, this juggling charlatan,
This tricksy beggar-priest, for gain alone
Keen-eyed, but in his proper art stone-blind.
Say, sirrah, hast thou ever proved thyself
A prophet? When the riddling Sphinx was here
Why hadst thou no deliverance for this folk?
And yet the riddle was not to be solved
By guess-work but required the prophet's art;
Wherein thou wast found lacking; neither birds
Nor sign from heaven helped thee, but _I_ came,
The simple Oedipus; _I_ stopped her mouth
By mother wit, untaught of auguries.
This is the man whom thou wouldst undermine,
In hope to reign with Creon in my stead.
Methinks that thou and thine abettor soon
Will rue your plot to drive the scapegoat out.
Thank thy grey hairs that thou hast still to learn
What chastisement such arrogance deserves. (380-404)

Oedipus accuses Teiresias of having insufficient knowledge to solve the Sphinx’s riddle and applauds himself for having the necessary insight. Oedipus’s own knowledge is clearly a source of pride for him, ironic given that it is the ultimate cause of his downfall.

Quote #3

Thou lov'st to speak in riddles and dark words.
In reading riddles who so skilled as thou?
Twit me with that wherein my greatness lies.
And yet this very greatness proved thy bane. (439-442)

Teiresias questions the benefits of pursuing answers and solving riddles. He seems to draw a distinction between wisdom (represented by himself) and mere knowledge (represented by Oedipus).

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