Oedipus
In Sopohocles\' tragedy "Oedipus the King", Oedipus proclaims " it
was I who have pronounced these curses on myself" (Madden 37). With this
announcement, Oedipus is aware that his pursuit for order has led to a life of
chaos. The central thesis is that the presumption of order establishes physical,
intellectual, and spiritual chaos. The text\'s reference to the sphinx, Oedipus,
and Tiresias creates this notion. These three literal signifiers are the
metaphoric symbolizers of physical, intellectual, and spiritual chaos. The
concept of physical chaos is first introduced during the first speech of the
priest when reference is made to the "harsh singer" (Madden 37), the
sphinx. In greek mythology, the sphinx is recognised as a hybrid creature with a
woman\'s head, a lion\'s body, an eagle\'s wings, and a serpent\'s tail. In reality,
"the virgin with the crooked talons" (Madden 48), is a unique
archetype for many things in one single being. The sphinx is an epitome of
destruction and chaos who establishes "the tax [they] had to pay
[her]" (Madden 17) because she devourers all who fail to answer her riddle.

Her domination of Thebes causes havoc and melancholic responses that are
directly related to the degree of her physical chaos. The confrontation between

Oedipus and the sphinx ends with the latter destroying herself, "the winged
maiden came against him: he was seen then to be skilled" (Madden 29), due
to Oedipus answering her riddle. By destroying herself, the sphinx makes it
possible for the oracles to come true. With her reign of terror at an end, the
sphinx makes it possible for Oedipus to continue with his life in pursuit of
order. Chaos is established because of the opportunity for the prophecies to
become an actuality. The physical appearance of the sphinx and her self-
destruction foreshadow chaos for Oedipus in the near future. As the sphinx is
the measure of highest physical chaos, so Oedipus is a measure of utmost
intellectual chaos. Oedipus, being the king of Thebes, portrays qualities that
signify intelligence, fortitude, and freedom from doubt. Oedipus\' intelligence
is prominent upon knowledge of his ill faith; Oedipus, in his present state of
mind, interprets the prophecies made to him literally. This course of action
assists in the accomplishment of the oracles. "[Phoebus] said [Oedipus]
would be [his] mother\'s lover, show offspring to mankind [that] they could not
look at, and be his [father\'s] murderer. When [Oedipus] heard this, and ever
since, [he] gauged the way to Corinth by the stars alone, running to a place
where [he] would never see the disgrace in the oracle\'s words come true."
(Madden 37). By trying to set down a systematic life, Oedipus ironically commits
the "wretched horrors" (Madden 37) he intends to avoid, thus coming to
the realization that "[he] struck them with his hand"(Madden 52).

Oedipus answers the riddle of the sphinx "and stopped her-by using
thought" (Madden 26). By doing so, Oedipus\' reward for freeing Thebes was
the throne and the hand in marriage of the widowed Jocasta. His
intelligence-driven fulfilment of the prophecies induced chaos because
"[her] riddle wasn\'t for a man chancing by to interpret, prophetic art was
needed" (Madden 26). The realization that "[he has] pronounced these
curses on [himself]" (Madden 37) depicts how Oedipus establishes
intellectual chaos because the choices he makes to secure order in his life
strangely enough provoke a chaotic time to come. The mention of Tiresias in the
play signifies spiritual chaos. He is a blind but wise prophet who "sees
more [...] than Lord Phoebus" (Madden 24). Tiresias knows the truth about

Oedipus and states: "he\'ll be shown a father who is also brother; to the
one who bore him, son and husband; to his father, his seed-fellow and
killer" (Madden 28). Tiresias has "the strength of the truth"
(Madden 25) and chaos evolves when he does not speak of the truth he knows. With
this, Oedipus accuses him of being "[part] of [the] plot [to murder Laius]"
(Madden 26), when in reality, "[Oedipus is the] enemy" (Madden 27).

Tiresias is blind due to natural causes, but when Oedipus tries to achieve his
level of wisdom, all that is obtained is chaos. "[H]e snatched the pins
[...] and struck [them] into [his eyeballs]" (Madden 50) in attempt to see
spiritually. Tiresias deceives Oedipus unintentionally into believing that
wisdom can be achieved by blindness; Tiresias says: "since you have thrown
my blindness at me: Your eyes can\'t see the evil to which you\'ve come"
(Madden 27). This incident depicts how Tiresias\' order establishes chaos for

Oedipus. Acquiring order cannot exist without the concept of chaos. The
realization that