Oedipus The King
Oedipus the King is a story of patricide and incest, which was written by Sophocles, an Ancient tragedian during the 5th century BC. Also known as the Oedipus Rex chronicles, the story focuses on a man named Oedipus, who became the King of Thebes and was prophesied to kill his father and marry his biological mother. In her book “Tragic Pleasures: Aristotle on Plot and Emotion, Belfiore conferred that Aristotle regarded “Oedipus the King” as the best Greek Tragedy.
CliffNotes provided a detailed but concise summary of the Oedipus the King where Sophocles emphasized the irony of a man who is determined to find and punish an assassin who in the end turned out to be himself.
The play started with Thebes’ clamour to King Oedipus to stop the plague that threatened the city. The oracle instructed the king’s brother –in-law, Creon to find the murderer of the former King of Thebes, King Laius. The blind prophet, Tiresias was then summoned by the King, who rejected the prophet’s accusation that he killed King Laius. Tiresias further hinted that Oedipus marriage was incestuous and blindness and infamy will soon fall to the King’s life. Jocasta, King Oedipus’ wife told him to ignore the prophecies. She explained that a prophecy that her former husband, Laius will be killed by his son did not come to past because he was murdered by robbers at a crossroad. This revelation from the queen distressed Oedipus because before becoming the king of Thebes, he killed a man who resembled like King Laius at a crossroad. To find the truth, he ordered a messenger to get the only living witness back, a shepherd, to provide details of the incident. The messenger revealed that Oedipus was abandoned when he was a baby and the shepherd offered him to a royal couple. At this instance, Oedipus was determined to know the truth about his life. At first, the shepherd refused to speak, but the king threatened to kill him, which led to the revelation that Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta. The realization that the prophecy came true; Oedipus was anguished by his fate. Upon returning to the palace, he found that the queen killed herself. Tortured and miserable, he took pins from Jocasta’s gown and raked out his eyes. Blinded and shamed, he asked Creon to end his life but Creon refused. He then submitted to Creon’s leadership and waited for the oracle to prophesy if he will still stay or be thrown out of Thebes.
Oedipus the King is a good example of a classic tragedy where a hero’s acts contribute to his downfall. This play has been considered one of the most flourishing stories in the history of classic tragedy which made Sophocles one of the greatest Greek tragedians of his time.
Oedipus the King: Fate vs. Free Will Essay examples
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Sophocles’ Oedipus the King: Fate vs. Free Will
In Oedipus the King, one of Sophocles’ most popular plays, Sophocles clearly depicts the Greek’s popular belief that fate will control a man’s life despite of man’s free will. Man was free to choose and was ultimately held responsible for his own actions. Throughout Oedipus the King, the concept of fate and free will plays an integral part in Oedipus' destruction.
Destined to marry his mother and murder his father, Oedipus was partly guided by fate. This prophecy, as warned by the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, was absolute and would inevitably come to pass. As for free will, Oedipus’ actions, temper, impulsive nature and pride (hubris) as well as his erroneous judgment (hamartia) all…show more content…
Not knowing he was the murderer, Oedipus had now cursed himself. "Whoever he is, a lone man unknown in his crime or one among many, let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step – I curse myself as well… if by any chance he proves to be an intimate of our house, here at my hearth, with my full knowledge, may the curse I just called down on him strike me!" (606)
Oedipus journey in search of Laius’ murderer has merely helped the prophecy become reality. His ignorance, pride and remorseless quest for the truth ultimately contributed to his destruction. An explicit example can be seen when Oedipus was told (after threatening Tiresias), that he was responsible for Laius’ murder. Oedipus became enraged and called the blind prophet a liar. Oedipus thought he could overcome the gods, but in fact, his every action moved him closer to his destiny.
Upon unearthing of the truth of his birth from the shepherd, Oedipus cries out, “O god all come true, all burst to light! O light now let me look my last on you! I stand revealed at last cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage, cursed in the lives I cut down with these hands”. (631). Oedipus now knew that his fate had indeed come to pass, and feels cursed by it. Due to the crimes he committed, Oedipus punishes himself (free will) by stabbing his eyes with one of Jocasta’s brooches.
Overall, Oedipus achieves his foremost sin when he attempts to