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"In the play, 'Oedipus the King' Sophocles argues that it is fate not the individual which controls human destiny."

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Introduction

"In the play, 'Oedipus the King' Sophocles argues that it is fate not the individual which controls human destiny." The Ancient Greeks believed that the gods predetermined one's fate before their birth and that it was something could not be avoided or controlled by the individual. "Oedipus the King," written by the Greek playwright Sophocles supports these beliefs. The story of Oedipus was a well-known myth to the Greeks, he was fated to kill his father and share his mother's bed. The Ancient Greeks did not question this myth, they believed firmly in it as they did with all myths, and believed that Oedipus could not escape his fate. The fate of Oedipus begins prior to the play, when his father Laius received a prophecy about his newborn child, whom his wife Jocasta had just given birth to. Apollo's oracle foretells that the infant is destined to kill his father, upon hearing this Laius gives the infant to a Shepherd, who is ordered to "expose the infant" on Mount Cithaeron. Rather than experiencing the guilt of their child's blood on their hands, the Ancient Greeks preferred to dispose of an infant in this manner. ...read more.

Middle

Hoping to avoid the prophecy, Oedipus ran away towards Thebes, only to stop at "a crossroad where three roads meet". Here, Oedipus kills a man, a stranger who is actually his real father. With the death of Laius, Sophocles is showing that the choice Oedipus made did not affect his future. His freewill and choice to avoid his fate, actually bought him closer to it. Oedipus heads to Thebes believing he has escaped his destiny, unknown to the fact there is one more deed left for him to commit before his fate is fulfilled. This deed occurs when Oedipus saves Thebes from Sphnix and is rewarded the title of king and Laius' widow, Jocasta. The play "Oedipus the King," begins twenty years later. Oedipus is yet to discover the truth of who he is and the fate he has been denying. This changes when a plague hits Thebes, which slowly begins to kill everything in sight. Oedipus, concerned for his townspeople sends his brother-in-law Creon to Delphi "to learn of what he can do to save the city." In the Ancient Greek society, it was a common practice to seek out the help of the gods, when a city was in turmoil. ...read more.

Conclusion

Oedipus realises he has been blind and punishes himself with a blinding. A modern audience would pity Oedipus and hold the belief that he doesn't deserve to be blind. Whereas, an Ancient Greek audience believed that Oedipus did deserve to be punished because he committed two horrific crimes: murder and incest. In the eyes of the Greeks, these were crimes that could not be easily atoned for or forgiven. The story of Oedipus was a well-known myth to the Ancient Greeks and these myths give us an impression of the views of the Greek people. They demonstrate how the Greeks loved heroes, fame, and honor and how the Greek viewed particular aspects of life. One of the aspects, the Greeks loved was the theatre. Sophocles took the well-known myth of Oedipus and turned it into an ethical play about fate and freewill. Sophocles shows us several instances within the play, where freewill is set within the bounds of fate. It is Oedipus' freewill which has revealed his fate, which was only fulfilled because of Oedipus' free willed actions. Sophocles shows Oedipus trying to control his destiny, but in the end fate has prevailed, which supports the beliefs that Ancient Greeks, as well as Sophocles had in fate. Word Count - 1012 ...read more.

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