There Is A Curse On The House Of Oedipus

Submitted By markbiatreh
Words: 913
Pages: 4

There is no curse on the house of Oedipus. Because of the many terrible things that happen to the members of Oedipus's family, a reader might be led to believe that there is such a curse. However, if that person examines the stories of Oedipus Rex and Antigone more closely, he or she will find that the reason so many tragedies happened to Oedipus's family is not because of some curse, but rather because of one common thread. Each person in the line of Oedipus tries to defy authority in one way or another. Oedipus and Jocasta both defy the authority of the gods by trying to run away from a prophesy of theirs, which results in Jocasta's death and Oedipus's dethroning and downfall. Antigone defies the authority of the king by violating his edict, which results in her death. In Ismene's case, the authority that is defied is that of the moral law, and for that she has to live out her days with guilt and regret.

The authority which Oedipus and Jocasta defy is the same. Both the king and his mother defy the authority of the gods by trying to evade their edict. The edict states that a son would be born to Jocasta who would marry his mother and kill his father, as Oedipus says, “How mating with my mother I must spawn a progeny...having been my father's murderer.” (OEDIPUS, Oedipus, 44). When Jocasta hears of this, she attempts to kill the baby Oedipus, thus trying to escape the prophesy. Similarly, when Oedipus, as an unmarried adult, hears that he would kill his father, he runs away from his home town, Corinth, never to return. Oedipus and Jocasta both defy the gods' authority, which in this case comes in the form of running away from a menacing prophesy. In the end, however, Jocasta dies and Oedipus is overthrown and ruined.

Like her parents, Antigone defies a powerful authority. Unlike her parents though, that authority is not of the gods, but rather of a person who thinks he is a god: Creon, Antigone's uncle, great-uncle, and king. He proclaims that the body of Polyneices, Antigone's brother who fought against Thebes in war, would be left to rot unburied on the field, “He must be left unwept, unsepulchered, a vulture's prize....” (ANTIGONE, Antigone, 192). Antigone, enraged by the injustice done to her family, defies Creon's direct order and buries her brother. By defying Creon's edict, she ostentatiously defies his total authority as king. Antigone is eventually put to death, continuing the fatal tradition in her family.

Ismene, Antigone's sister, has a case quite different from that of her sister, mother, or father. As opposed to the rest of her family who each defy the authority of living beings, Ismene revolts against the authority of the moral law. She does that when she refuses her sister's request to help in burying their brother, Polyneices, saying, “I'm just not made to war against the state.” (ISMENE, Antigone, 194). Ismene knows that the action Antigone wants her to take part in would mean death, so by refusing, she chooses life. Antigone goes along with the illegal burial, and when Creon finds out what she has done, he sentences her to die in a cave. However, when Creon questions Ismene about her role in the burial, she takes full responsibility, claiming that she had an equal part with Antigone in the crime, “I did it too, if she'll