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Attitudes to religion in the play, Oedipus, the King.

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Introduction

Title: Attitudes to religion in the play, ?Oedipus, the King?. Word Count: 1493 Title: Attitudes to religion in the play, ?Oedipus, the King?. Sophocles? works are exemplary in that they give us an insight the cultural and social aspects of the ancient Greek society. Like any other society, this one is also founded on the pillars of religion. Through his play, ?Oedipus, the King?, Sophocles shows how gods can be villainous and also how the faith in the divinity and in the religious dogmas can be reduced into smithereens, when the God proves himself averse to human interests. It has always been believed that the ancient Greeks were a very religious society. Through this play, Sophocles gives the audience a true vision of the attitudes of the Greek society towards the Gods and their religion. He uses a variety of characters in different circumstances to show different attitudes towards religion in 8th century BC, Greece. One of the main themes that also serves as a dominating factor in driving the plot forward is that of predestination. Since Sophocles ?served for many years as an ordained priest of Alcon and Asclepius?[1], his views on religion are firm. ...read more.

Middle

The priest of Zeus praying to Oedipus to help the people of Thebes says, ?There was a god in it, a god in you? (Sophocles 25, line 57). He compares Oedipus to a god before the people by proclaiming, ?Thebes calls you savior? (Sophocles 25, line 69). In this episode we can see that the people consider Oedipus above God as the God who they have been worshipping is destroying Thebes. The people?s belief that Oedipus can fight the ?God of plague? is enunciated by Sophocles, wherein the chorus says, ?God?s fire eating everyone, everything, stroke after stroke of lightening, the god stabbing it alive? (Sophocles 24, line 44). But the so deified Oedipus is himself afraid of the power of oracles when he hears a mac, claiming to be a prophet, call Oedipus a bastard The harsh tone and diction used by Berg and Clay while addressing ?God? shows how even they believed that the people have started to consider God as a villain and Oedipus as a hero. This is ironic because the audience already knows that Oedipus is the one who is causing the plague and Apollo is the one to cleanse it. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is of the opinion that a man is safe as long as he is unaware of the prophecy or completely blind to it. Given the power of gods, Oedipus will have to switch roles with the blind prophet, when he blinds himself with Jocasta?s brooches. Thus the power of gods is invincible. Even minor characters such as the shepherd has deep faith in the god when he says, ?If you are the man he says you are, believe me you were born for pain.? At the end of the play Oedipus capitulates before the almighty gods and yells, ?LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT never again flood these eyes with your white radiance, oh gods, my eyes. All, all the oracles have proven true.? (Sophocles 77, line 1493). The chorus also feels commiseration for the unfortunate Oedipus, and declares, ?Happiness and peace, they were not your unless at death you can look back on your life and say I lived, I did not suffer.? (Sophocles 94, line 1986). It can be said that the attitude of the chorus and the characters of the play give us an insight into the omniscient and omnipotent power wielded by the gods in ancient Greece. The gods may appear iniquitous or unjustified for a moment but Sophocles illustrates that, ultimately it is their glory and their kingdom. ...read more.

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