The Tragedy of Oedipus has Parallels with the Cursed Russian Invasion
There is no character in the Western Cannon who is as pitiful and deplorable as Oedipus. Unlike other archetypes like Cain, Job, and McBeth, he has cursed by God multiple times. Three times to be exact, for three good reasons. The first curse fell on Oedipus when he slaughtered his own father. Murdering a member of one’s family is crime that guarantees eternal punishment. The second curse for fucking his own mother. There are certain violations that are so outrageous and horrific that even the Gods react with nausea, disgust, and indignation.
The third curse is more subtle, and self-inflicted. A plague has fallen upon Thebes, the city-state where Oedipus is king. An oracle announces that the plague has been brought on by the Gods, because the murderer of the previous King of Thebes has not yet been found and brought to justice. In response, Oedipus Rex curses this murderer from very depths of his heart. However, he doesn’t realize that he himself has slain the previous king, his father! Thus, by cursing the vile murderer, Oedipus curses himself.
Oedipus is 3x cursed in dark and multi-layered shades of damnation. In this, he and the Russian invaders are much alike, and not just because they’re all motherfuckers. The Russians are also cursed by God, and their multiple curses are tragic, self-referential, and multi-layered. This contrasts with the invading Nazi hordes of WW2. The Nazis represent a simpler abomination; their crimes before the heavens are clear and 1-dimensional. The Russian crimes, by contrast, are more nuanced and interlaced. They lead to a reverberating horror that echoes in one’s soul. This is worth discussing.
The Russians, just like Oedipus, are cursed on multiple levels. The first curse falls upon them for slaughtering their own brothers. The Russians have always considered the Ukrainian people to be their brothers, even when they brought destruction upon their lands. One might argue that this viewpoint wasn’t always mutually reciprocated. However, we can bypass this touchy question of Russo-Ukrainian relationships by emphasizing that worse war atrocities (thus far) have been committed in UA cities whose population is predominantly Russian by ethnicity. Mariupol and my home-city of Kharkiv have historically been very Russian-oriented. Pre-Putin, their populations had identified more with Russian culture in the east than with Ukrainian nationality. Now these cities lie in ruins as death and destruction rains down from undefended skies. Ethnically Russian children are being buried in mass graves outside Mariupol. Russians soldiers kill their brothers in the very literal sense, since many of them have families in the Ukrainian East. Of course, this type of fratricide is the sort of crime that brings eternal damnation from the heavens.
There is a second curse that falls upon the Russians for violating their most sacred values. Modern Russians grew-up in shadow of WW2; a calamity whose traumas still reverberate through many generations. 27 million Soviet citizens perished in that war. 20 million of these were civilians; succumbing to Nazi bombings, SS execution squads, and also to starvation in besieged town. The war left the Soviet Union in utter ruins, as entire towns were razed to the ground. Much of that destruction happened in Ukraine, where the Germans kicked-off their Operation Barbarossa. The start of the war is ingrained the Russian consciousness as that moment when bombs fell upon Kyiv at 4:00 am in 1941. The subsequent suffering was so great that for 80 years the merest hint of these events repeating filled the Russians with a boundless horror. Such imagery would trigger a sense of nausea and revulsion equal the consequences of imagined incest with one’s mother. Now, Russian soldiers have violated this most sacred taboo. They bombed Kyiv at 4:00am, and unleashed war on Ukrainian lands. Once again, great Ukrainian cities burn as millions of refugees crowd train-stations and flee to fates unknown. The Russians have chosen to make their terrible nightmare a reality. For this violation, they are cursed.
The third curse is more subtle, and self-inflicted. The Russians have structured their identify around a fierce hatred of fascism. They’re channeling that hatred into their invasion whose purpose is to “de-nazify” Ukraine. The Russians curse fascists from the very depths of their hearts, praying the God smite the fascist fiends with justly painful retribution. Of course, the Russians fail to realize that they have become the fascists now. They’re the ones who launch blitzkrieg invasions to subjugate free people in neighboring lands. They’re the ones who murder innocent children the sky and execute civilians as they wait in line for bread. They’re the ones who send in secret police to arrest peaceful protesters in occupied towns. They’re the ones who slavishly worship a mad leader, obeying every order, no matter how depraved. The Russians now embody the pitch-black heart of fascist culture; with swastika replaced by the totalitarian symbol Z. Russia has become its own worst enemy. By cursing the fascists, the Russian people curse themselves.
Eventually, Oedipus came to recognize his crimes. In response, he took responsibility. He gouged out his own eyes and wandered off into the desert. Unfortunately, the Russians still remain blind to their own crimes. The Russian majority supports the senseless slaughter in Ukraine. Perhaps one day, they’ll see what they’ve become. To the Russian people who support the invasion, I have this to say; There’s only one way to alleviate your curse. Rip out your eyes, and then wander through the deserts of your conscience.