As king, then, Oedipus was required to act against the polluted man in some way, given the extreme reaction of the natural world. As a ruler, his work was to protect his city, and upon learning of the pollution, the most obvious course of action is, of course, to expel the polluted man from the kingdom. Indeed, qua king, his best interest the city’s best interest; but part of the tragedy here is that Oedipus the king’s interest is contrary to Oedipus the man’s interest. When Oedipus discovers that he himself is the polluted man, his reaction is not denial of punishment, but rather to proclaim his sorrow that his future will be so dismal.


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