Do You Have a Bad Relationship with this Number? Self-fulfilling Prophecies and Oedipus Rex, the Greek Tragedy.


It seems almost silly to think of having a relationship of any sort with a number, but that's what it feels like. I simply do not enjoy the number 13. I have had an irrational dislike or even phobia of it as long as I can remember. Today, asI write this, it is October 13th, a Wednesday, which has me thinking about it. Most people are only bothered by Friday the 13th. I try to be a positive and optimistic person, but I find that a disproportionate number of things go wrong for me on the 13th. Maybe it is because i expect that they will, though. It is funny how many things in life are actually self-fulfilling prophecies.

I remember way back in high school when we had to read Oedipus Rex. That was the original self-fulfilling prophecy. If you have not read it, well, it's a centuries old Greek tragedy, so need I say "spoiler alert" or can we all agree that we know what it's about? Okay, spoiler alert. Oedipus is the son of a king. The King goes to the Oracle at Delphi (and you'll have to pardon me if I muck up some of the details because high school was a while ago). Anyhow, the Oracle tells him that his (yet unborn) son will marry his mother (i.e. the King's wife) and kill the King.

The King is not happy, so, like any normal father would do in such circumstances, once his son is born, he has him taken up to the top of a mountain to be left for dead. Of course. Father of the year material. A shepherd comes along and takes baby Oedipus down the mountain to a neighboring kingdom where he is raised by the King and Queen there. They happen to not have any children, and, clearly, the gods have left this baby on the mountain for them.

Years later, when Oedipus is grown he is driving along in his chariot and, who should he bump into, but OG King Daddy? He gets into an argument with him, and ends up killing him, as you do, never realizing that this was his birth father. Does he even know he is adopted? He marries the King's widow, Jocasta, his birth mother. Accidental incest. The gods get mad and ruin the crops and give everyone bad weather. Oedipus investigates, discovers the whole thing, and feels a need to poke his own eyes out.

That is Oedipus Rex in a nutshell, and that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If his Dad had simply ignored the Oracle at Delphi, would he have killed his father and married his mother? Perhaps. But maybe not. We will never know now.

I think I started disliking the number 13 because bad things kept happening on the 13th, but, as I was saying, it might be that I just noticed when terrible things would happen on the 13th. For example, I met my ex-husband on Friday the 13th. We always said it was GOOD LUCK for us. Ha ha ha. It really doesn't seem like such good luck now. I have been divorced for a long time, but that sort of thing sticks with you.

I am sure that many wonderful things have also happened to me on the 13th. I just have not taken the time to really notice them. I need to do that more. Maybe I will take advantage of today to make it a positive and lucky 13th for once rather than dreading it and trying to slink away from it. You cannot hide from a day, after all. Unless you are particularly stealthy. And even then, it is challenging.

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