"All Comes Clear at Last," but "the readiness is All"


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

When all comes clear at last, Oedipus rushed off-stage and tears out his eyes. Finally he sees. He sees himself, and the sight is, too horrifying to be endured. His identity is no longer to be mistaken. This is the point of discovery, the time of recognition and reversal. Oedipus can now say Ecce homo, I am he. And he has come to this recognition, this full realization, ironically by the relentless exercise of his own powers of reason - and the pursuit of virtue. No god reveals Oedipus to himself; no intuition or rousing motions dispose him to his deeds. It was apparently reasonable and altogether virtuous, if not wise, for the clever prince to use his wits to evade the oracle by leaving Corinth, to rid Thebes of the Sphinx, and then proudly to track down the polluter with determined initiative and enterprise and logic. He himself sent to know of the oracle the source of the suffering in Thebes; the oracle laid no obligations upon him, nor did it give him the answer direct. He took upon himself the tasks; the gods did not set them upon him, nor did they help him out of them - not in Oedipus Rex. He was too humanly wise, that is, too foolish, to disregard their prophecy in the first place; and they knew he would not heed them.

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