Oedipus’first two speeches in the play portray him as a competent leader whois always there when the people of Thebes need him. He also showsconcern whenever his subjects appear to be troubled by an issueaffecting them. “I did not think it fit to hear/ this from mymessengers, but I came myself” (Sophocles, 2012, 5-6). It isapparent that Oedipus anticipates the needs of his subjects and he isready to help them. While Oedipus’ subjects acknowledge him as acompetent leader, he also knows this, and this is the reason he actsswiftly whenever the people of Thebes are troubled. “I Oedipus,whom all men call great.” (Sophocles, 2012, 7).
Onecan conclude that Oedipus has excellent leadership skills afterseeing that he already knows what his subjects need even before theytell him. “I pity you, children/ but I knew the story before youtold it.” (Sophocles, 2012, 66-67). Oedipus does not need someoneelse to inform him about the plague that made the people suffer sincehe already found out the problem earlier. Oedipus’ subjectsunderstand that he is an influential leader, but they also know thathe can be vulnerable, and anything might befall him (Kalmanson,2015). “So, let us not speak about your reign/ as a time when ourfeet were first set high, but later fell to ruin. (Sophocles, 2012,56-58). The comments by the priest illustrate his worries that theplague could be the downfall of Oedipus.
Thepeople of Thebes consider Oedipus to be the only individual that canhelp them whenever they are in distress. Equally important, Oedipus’subjects find him to be approachable, and this is the reason they goto him regardless of their ages. “You see our company here/ you seeour ages” (Sophocles, 2012, 14-15). Although the people of Thebescould have selected a few individuals to represent them as theypresented their afflictions to Oedipus, they approached him as agroup. The people of Thebes have faith in Oedipus, and they know thathe could do something to end the plague, as he had previously savedthem from the Sphinx curse (Sophocles, 2016). “Within themarketplace, others sit crowned with suppliant garlands”(Sophocles, 2012, 19-20). As Grene explains, the people wore crownsuntil someone granted them their requests.
Oedipus’subjects also view him as the only person that can accomplish whatother people in Thebes have failed to do, and they also consider himthe intermediary between them and God. Oedipus was the only personthey relied on when the worst disasters occurred in Thebes. “Youcame and saved our city/ freed us from the Sphinx/ it was God thataided you.” (Sophocles, 2012, 39-41).
Oedipusregards himself as a confident and competent leader who acts swiftlyto correct any problems that his subjects are facing. AlthoughOedipus holds a commanding position in Thebes, he considers himselfhumble enough to interact with the people and gathers informationfrom them instead of his messengers. I did not think it fit to hear/this from my messengers, but I came myself” (Sophocles, 2012, 5-6).Even though Oedipus already knows why his subjects came to him, hestill wants to hear them talk about it.
Oedipusis also empathetic of his subjects, and he regards this as one of thequalities that make him a great leader. After Oedipus affirms that hehas to hear his subjects’ problems directly from them, he also goesahead to tell them that he would do anything to help them. “I amwilling to give you all/ you may need it would be hard/ not to pitysuppliants” (Sophocles, 2012, 10-12). Oedipus’ confidence alsoenables him to make decisions fast whenever an issue arises, and thisis the reason he sent Creon to the temple so that he could find asolution that would end the plague. “But as I thought I found aremedy/ and took it. I sent Creon/ to the Pythian temple”(Sophocles, 2012, 77-78).
Kalmanson,L. (2015). MAXNotesLiterature Guides: Sophocles’ the Oedipus Trilogy. Research & Education Society.
Sophocles.(2012). Oedipusthe King.Grene,D. (Ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sophocles.(2016). Oedipusthe King and Other Tragedies: , Aias, Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus.Oxford: Oxford University Press.