Hubris Quotes in Oedipus Rex

Hubris Quotes in Oedipus Rex
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  • 0:03 What Is Hubris?
  • 0:27 Quotes from Oedipus
  • 2:01 Warnings from Others
  • 2:39 Quotes from the Chorus
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Thomas White

Thomas holds a BA in education and English literature and has taught middle school English.

In this lesson, we define hubris and give selected quotes that demonstrate the role of hubris in 'Oedipus Rex.' Quotes are taken from Oedipus' dialogue, from the Chorus, and from advisors who warn Oedipus against being prideful.

What Is Hubris?

The tragedy of Oedipus Rex by the Greek writer Sophocles is filled with hubris on the part of its main character. Hubris is a quality of excessive pride or self confidence. It shows up frequently in Greek drama, and it usually leads to the downfall of the protagonist. This is because, to the Greeks, excessive pride in yourself means you have to compete with the gods.

Quotes from Oedipus

Let's take a look at some quotes showcasing the hubris of Oedipus:

Your words are just; but to constrain the gods
to what they will not, passes all men's power.

As we see early in the drama, Oedipus shows that he understands the gods' power. It's only later, when their will seems to turn against him, that he begins to push back.

Creon, the trusty, the familiar friend,
With secret mines covets to oust me from it,
And has suborned a sorcerer like this,
An engine-botching crafty cogging knave,
Who has no eyes to see with, but for gain,
And was born blind in the art! Why, tell me now,
How stand your claims to prescience? How came it,
When the oracular monster was alive,
You aid no word to set this people free
And yet it was not for the first that came
To solve her riddle; sooth was needed then,
Which you could not afford; neither from birds,
Nor any inspiration; till I came,
The unlettered Oedipus, and ended her,
By sleight of wit, untaught in augury --
I whom you now seek to cast out, in hope
To stand upon the steps of Creon's throne!

As soon as Tiresias points a finger at Oedipus, the king turns on him. He calls Tiresias names and throws accusations, then builds himself up by reminding everyone of how he answered the Sphinx's riddle.

Nay, it cannot be
That having such a clue I should refuse
To solve the mystery of my parentage!

Oedipus is unwilling to face his mistakes, even in light of clear evidence. He can't believe that he would fail to put the pieces together himself.

Warnings from Others

As we conceive,
His words appear (and, Oedipus, your own,)
To have been said in anger; now not such
Our need, but rather to consider this --
How best to interpret the god's Oracle.

Here, one of the senators urges Oedipus to consider Tiresias' words. He suggests they consider different ways to interpret the Oracle's words, rather than simply throw them out.

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