Why do people depend so much on Oedipus for solving their problem? Or What character of Oedipus as a king is revealed through this supplication of the people to Oedipus in the case of their national disaster?
Ans. Much of the character of Oedipus as a king is expressed through the manner he addresses his people who are waiting in supplication before his palace. He is very much concerned or worried about what the people’s problem may be when he sees his people in that position. They have come with branches of trees, they are praying, and uttering lamentations. He is not indifferent to his subjects, and so he does not think it fit to rely on his messengers. He has come out of his palace to learn for himself. He is conscious of his great name and fame. He shows due respect to the priest, and asks him to speak, “in right of age”, for all the people there. He earnestly wants to know about the nature of their trouble— whether it is a matter of some fear, or something they desire. He assures them of any help he can do. He should indeed be heartless if he turned his back on a general petition like the present one. The priest refers to Oedipus’s past deed of delivering the city from the clutch of the monster Sphinx with the help of God. He addresses the king as great and glorious, the greatest of men, their saviour. His rule raised them up, and he is now to prevent it from falling. Oedipus then professes he grieves for them, and nobody suffers more than he. His heart bears the weight of his own, and theirs and all the people’s sorrows. He weeps and walks through endless ways of thought. He has not been idle; he has already sent Creon to consult the Delphic oracle.