But why ? Is it because of the shock value of doing battle within your own family? Is it because the family can be viewed as the world in miniature? Is it because we think of people who control the fates of entire cities (like, say, Thebes) as being so powerful that we want to watch them powerlessly fighting their own flesh and blood? Is it because familial love is such a weird and often frustrating thing—hello, family Thanksgiving—that we want the catharsis of seeing someone actually battle their parents? Is it because, deep inside, we're all angsty thirteen-year-olds who just want to stay out until midnight Mom, please ?
Although Oedipus seems to have traded his former pride and disdain for kindness, the scene that opens the play creates a puzzling contradiction. The characters are trespassing on holy ground that is described lovingly by Antigone. The trespass must be rectified with libation and with prayers, and it is. At the same time, it seems odd that a play dedicated to piety begins with trespass on holy ground. What seems clear is that this Oedipus is far more devout than he once was—when a prayer or libation is called for, he agrees to it at once. Yet, although Oedipus has his daughters perform the necessary rites, he does not really apologize for his trespass. Rather, he regards himself as someone who holds knowledge of the gods beyond that of the naïve citizens. This odd tension between piety and pride will not cease but increase as the play progresses.