Because Words are Truer in Paper (a letter from Oedipus to Jocasta)


I’m not sure what to believe in anymore. I know I accused Teiresias of setting me up and being in cahoots with my brother-in-law, Creon, but the blind prophet’s answer somehow seems to make sense. My life had been a puzzle to me, a broken picture with lots of missing pieces. I grew tired of trying to look for these elusive pieces because the seer’s prediction was enforcing an unfavorable twist in my life. So I left Corinth and abandoned the puzzle. Here in Thebes, I tried to make a new image, a new puzzle worth completing but I guess I had only recovered the missing pieces of the old one, the image I desperately tried to run away from. It’s scary how they all seem to fit together. I’m scared, my dearest.

What if the prophecy actually came true? I know what you said to me about prophecies and that they’re nothing but false hearsay. I actually want to believe that! But voices at the back of my mind are starting to tell me something about my past. It’s been tugging at my brain, trying to feed me horrific facts about my life.

I don’t want to believe that I really did kill my old man. I don’t want to know that I caused my own father’s demise, Jocasta. I don’t want to realize that Teiresias might actually be telling the truth. I refuse to believe him and that is why I accused Creon and Teiresias of teaming up against me.

If I really did kill my father, then that means half of the prophecy has come true! But then again, how is King Laius my father? Because if he is, that could mean – no. It can’t be. May the gods forbid. You’re not. You’re not my mom. Merope is. And as long as she’s still living, fate might have its wicked ways to bring me to my knees and ask for my mother’s hand in marriage. I don’t like the idea of that.

So I’m writing you this letter, in the midst of waiting for the peasant who’ll tell us his version of the story, to tell you not to worry about me. If an inimical twist come about, let me suffer in the aftermath. Don’t let it be a burden to you and to the rest of the Thebans. I don’t want to go all hysterical so I’m writing these words on this piece of paper that is addressed to you because you make me feel stable. I love you.

Teiresias’ words are sill ringing in my ears. Right now, I’m convincing myself that this is all a confusion, a mistake. I am Oedipus, the King of Thebes, son of King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth. I didn’t kill Laius. I didn’t kill my father. I won’t marry my mother. I married you, Jocasta.

I ended up here in Thebes because I was desperately running away from fate. I liberated myself. Polybus is out there, reigning in Corinth alongside Merope. He’s supreme and alive and I haven’t even laid a finger on him. I’m miles away from the most plausible setting of committing such infamies. I don’t plan on doing something stupid like going back there. I’m several arms away from my old man and I’ll make sure to keep it that way. The farther I am from him, the farther and farther away I am from living the bodement.

I am not the murderer. I refuse to believe some old blind soothsayer and a drunk man. I’ll hold on to the words you spoke of. Humans have no part in the craft of prophecy. I’ll give them no heed.

May Thebes live forever on!

Your husband,

Oedipus Rex


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