Oedipus at Colonus Irony

Oedipus at Colonus Irony

The place

When Oedipus and his daughter approach Athens, they stop in the grove of the furies where they are discovered by the people coming from Athens. While everyone tried to stay as far as they could from the groove, Oedipus had no problems with siting there, even going as far as admitting that he felt safe in the groove. This element is ironic considering the fact that the groove was associated with punishment and suffering.

Needing him

At the beginning of the play, the impression left is that the people hated Oedipus for he had done and that they wanted to keep him as far away from their city as possible. However, because Oedipus’s sons began to fight for power, it became necessary to bring Oedipus back into the city. Ironically, while the city needed Oedipus, they refused to accept him back or offer him a proper burial, deciding to make him stay just outside the city walls.

Trusting the Gods

Oedipus learned to trust the Gods instead of trusting the people in his life, learning the hard way that people will always betray you. Because of this, Oedipus claims that he will only trust the Gods when he is asked by Theseus why he chose to protect Thebes and not his former city. The fact that Oedipus trusts the Gods the most is ironic because according to him, the reason why he was in such a deplorable state was because he was punished by the Gods.

Everyone wants him now

After Oedipus is told by the King Thebes that he can live in Athens if he likes, Oedipus’s brother in law comes to him as well, trying to persuade him to go and live with him instead. Oedipus notes ironically that when he needed a home, no one was willing to take him in. Now, that he has a stable home, everyone fights over him and tries to convince him to come and stay with them in their city.

Not the answer he hoped to receive

Towards the end of the play, Oedipus is visited by one of his sons who is trying to make Oedipus join him and fight against his brother. The son, Polynices, hoped to convince Oedipus by showing just how alike they were and how the things they experienced were similar. Ironically, instead of convincing his father to help him, Polynices turned his father even more against him to the point where Oedipus cursed both his sons to die in battle. Thus, instead of receiving his father’s blessing, Polynices is cursed by him and doomed to a shameful death.

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