Yesterday, I came across the name Merope in the ancient Greek play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. She is not an acutal character in the play, but is mentioned in retrospect by Oedipus, her adoptive son. In this play, Merope is the adoptive mother of Oedipus, who, along with her husband Polybus (they were royalty), took Oedipus in as their own child after recieving him from a shepherd. The shepherd had found baby Oedipus on a hillside, with his ankles bound. Oedipus was the actual son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, who upon hearing a prophecy from Apollo that their child would murder his father, bound his feet in ropes and had one of their servants throw him on a hillside. Thinking that Oedipus was dead, they went on about their lives. Merope and Polybus took Oedipus in as their own son, but failed to tell him about the circumstances involving his birth, or that they were not his true parents. When Oedipus learned of the prophecy (which actually said that he would kill his own father and marry his mother), he ran away from his home, thinking that he would kill Polybus and marry Merope. Oedipus was very frustrated after leaving home, and on the way to Thebes, he killed an old man who he thought was just a traveller, but ended up being his father. Then later on, after arriving in Thebes, he married his mother, Jocasta, and had children with her. Disgusting. I know that was a lot of information to give for such a measly character, but it's important to have all the facts. Even though Merope was mentioned only a few times in the play, there are a few similarities between her and the Merope of HBP, as well as Oedipus and Voldemort, I have come to realize.
1. Both are mothers of very powerful beings. Voldemort became one of the most powerful wizards of all time, and Oedipus became a king who was revered throughout all of Greece.
2. Both sons commit severe acts of repulsiveness: Voldemort is a murdering, soul-splitting, Horcrux-making shadow of a human being, and Oedipus has also committed murder, incest, and has banished his brother-in-law/uncle from the land, for no good reason.
3. Both mothers are forsaken by their sons: Voldemort's mother, Merope, died in childbirth, but he still spoke ill of her when he was growing up (as seen in the pensive episode where Dumbledore visits Voldemort in the orphanage, I believe). Voldemort hates his mother because she embodied mortality, and Oedipus simply didn't give his adoptive mother a chance to explain herself.
4. Both Voldemort and Oedipus fall into their respective lifestyles because of a prophecy. I'm sure we're all very familiar with the prophecy concerning Voldemort and Harry, but with Oedipus, he did not have all of the facts, and chose to take literally the prophecy that he heard from the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Voldemort and Oedipus were extremely similar in that respect.
The key difference between Oedipus and Voldemort was that when Oedipus discovered his faults, he persecuted himself (similar to how Dobby inflicts pain on him). He poked out both of his eyes, wanting never again to look on the shame that he had caused and been a part of, and banished himself from the land. I doubt seriously that Voldemort would be that unselfish, like a martyr. Voldemort is too cold hearted to realize the many, many errors of his ways and remove himself from the picture.
Anyways, this was supposed to be about the origin of the name Merope (pronounced MAIR-oh-pee in the play). So now you know much more than you probably should, but oh well. Thanks!
Written by Casey Claiborne