YMMV / Oedipus the King

  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Oedipus kills his father, then marries and has sex with his mother. Although most descriptions leave out the detail that he did these things unknowingly, as well as the fact his mother hangs herself before he gouges out his eyes.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: It could also be said that the big lesson from the story is to simply ignore what the oracles say in the first place. As in each case it was the people involved trying to AVOID the prophecy that caused it. Oedipus' parents sending him to die, where he is instead brought to a different kingdom far away. He hears about his destiny, and fearing that it might happen, leaves what he thinks is his birth home. Frankly, if anyone involved would have said, "This prophecy is silly", it probably wouldn't have happened.
    • Alternatively, don't cut people off in traffic or kill people who cut you off in traffic.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: It's entirely possible that Jocasta knew all along who Oedipus was and, for the sake of maintaining her lifestyle and the city's stability (and because of genetic sexual attraction), married and had children with her own son. Her suicide was not caused by her realizing the truth but by her realizing that she couldn't stop the truth from coming out.
    • You can also interpret Creon as suspecting the truth, but not wanting to pursue it because of the political implications.
  • Award Snub: This play is the most famous of all of Greek tragedy. When it was first performed, it got second place at the city Dionysia competition.
  • It Was His Sled: The play was based on an old story and written with the expectation that the audience knew the ending. Indeed, as pointed out by classicist Bernard Knox, that gave the play its suspense, since the audience was waiting for when Oedipus would discover the Awful Truth. It also continues into the present day, thanks in large part to people's familiarity with the concept of the Oedipus Complex.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Laius crosses this prior to the trilogy when he rapes the titular character of Chrysippus. This angers the gods, whom curse his entire family and lead to the catastrophic events of the trilogy.
  • Nausea Fuel: When Oedipus finds out what he has done, he gouges his eyes out with his wife's brooches. Also the fact that he had children with his mom.
  • Narm: To a modern audience, a lot of Greek theatre comes off this way, because most modern Western actors lack the training to perform it in a way that doesn't just look like stilted overacting.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The 1957 video adaptation by Tyrone Guthrie features every actor wearing a gigantic mask with terrifyingly huge, black eyes. Although Ancient Greek theatre was actually performed this way.
  • Newer Than They Think: The play is Older Than Feudalism but is actually a prequel to Antigone.
  • Tear Jerker: It's already awfully sad seeing everything go to pot for Oedipus because of Fate, but perhaps the worst part is when he has to explain to his daughters how they will be viewed as disgusting aberrations all because of him.
  • Values Dissonance: Inevitable, given that the play is over a thousand years old.
    • The main part of it is that to an ancient Greek watching this play, Oedipus would've deserved what was coming to him because of his pride. Nowadays, it just seems kinda mean spirited. There's also the fact that infanticide by exposure was actually common practice in ancient Greece.
    • It's also hard for a modern audience to accept the original murder of his father. The only thing that made it a crime was his eventual revealed identity. That Oedipus killed a man for a traffic violation, and even casually talked about it to others, means nobody cared... until they knew who it was.