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The aging Oedipus, who is about to meet his death, is a figure of great calm and stoic resilience after a stormy life as ruler of Thebes. Blind and lonely, he seeks redemption from his dreadful past wherein he unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. Now he wishes no further part in the material world of men, and as a true penitent, he seeks salvation in a life of spiritual meditation. An oracle has predicted that his impending death will be of sacred importance to his people as it will "bring salvation to the Theban race". However, he does not wish to meddle in public affairs of state any longer and hopes to die in Colonus peacefully.
Creon may be considered the true antagonist in the play, though his actions are motivated by the terrible civil war into which Thebes is plunged through the bitter fratricidal enmity of Eteocles and Polyneices. While Creon supports Eteocles in this struggle, Oedipus vents his anger against both his sons for bringing Thebes once again to the brink of disaster.
Creon attempts to isolate Oedipus even further by separating him from his two loyal followers, Antigone and Ismene. He orders his guards to arrest them and carry them off to Thebes. Then he attempts to abduct Oedipus, so that Thebes and not Athens may have the honor of burying Oedipus when he dies. It was believed that whichever side had the body of Oedipus would win the civil conflict in Thebes.
Creon's interference during Oedipus' last days almost denies him his desire to be left alone and to die in peace, without getting involved in earthly affairs of bitter hatred and violent power struggles. The chorus prevents Creon from taking Oedipus back to Thebes.The structural climax of the play occurs when Polyneices arrives and tries to win his father's support to his cause of gaining power in Thebes even though he has selfishly shunned Oedipus after his fall. The terrible curse Oedipus utters against his two worthless sons form the most climactic scene of the whole play.
Oedipus is finally able to attain his desired salvation, through the kindly intervention of Theseus, king of Athens, who rescues him and his daughters from the vicious schemes of Creon and his men. The gods invoke his death with peals of thunder and other heavenly omens, revealing his time has finally come to leave this world of cares.