Metaphor in Oedipus Rex
Sophocles uses language here that is evocative of fire imagery. The Greeks often described sight and the eyes as lights. By blinding himself, Oedipus has snuffed his light out, extinguishing the flame.
Oedipus’s blindness to the truth has been lifted, as he now realizes that it was he who killed Laius, rendering the prophecy true. Light and dark are used as metaphors for the visibility of truth, where “darkness” refers to Oedipus’s ignorance of the truth, and “light” represents his newfound understanding of the situation.
In Greek society, it was common to compare the governance of a city-state to the command of a ship, a metaphor first introduced by Plato in the Republic. Jocasta fears that Oedipus is becoming unfit as a leader to “steer” Thebes in the right direction because he is too preoccupied with learning about the prophecy. Comparing Oedipus as a pilot creates a greater sense of urgency because it makes it clear that the passengers’--the Thebans’--lives are at stake.
In some contexts, this refers to Sirius, the dog star, which ushers in the feverish times of August. Here, it is simply a metaphor comparing the plague to a wrathful god, emphasizing the severity of sickness and instilling the situation with urgency.