"I'm actually the problem?" - Oedipus the King Revisited
Yes, the icky details of the story (which Freud focused on in his theory) make it memorable and many assume that is why the play is a classic, but it's more complicated than that. Sophocles' adaptation of the story endures, but others don't. Why? The crux of the story's profound truth actually rests on the irony, which Sophocles chose to emphasize, while other writers failed to recognize it.
In case you aren't familiar with the tale: The city-state of Thebes is suffering from a dreadful plague due to sin — the murderer of King Laius (Oedipus' father) has never been caught and brought to justice. The people turn to their king Oedipus for a cure. Oedipus curses the murderer and confidently states he will find him and save the city from its sickness. Oedipus essentially proclaims himself to be the savior of the city-state and its people, only to discover, by the end of the play, that he is the cause of its downfall and disease. At discovering the truth, he blinds himself by stabbing his own eyes.
|Oedipus Discovering the Truth, 330–320 B.C.|
But the main point being made here — aren't we, as individuals, truly the source of all of our problems? The London Times, in 1910, asked Christian writer G. K. Chesterton to write an editorial piece answering the question, "What is wrong with the world today?" G. K. Chesterton wrote, "I am." In a culture in which the norm is to point the finger at the opposing political party (or try to come up with yet another political party if that doesn't work), gee, consider the possibility that I'm the problem? What a novelty.
And the story of Oedipus the King continues to endure...
(Julian Moody, in his pioneering work in business, often found that presidents, executives, and managers seeking a solution for a problem often turned out to be the source of the problem. See topic: "Change (Real Change) Begins With Individuals" in our project Dialogues with Julian Moody: On Life, Business, Sustainability, and Other Things.)