• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"In Oedipus Tyranus, Oedipus is destroyed by his own flawed character." Asses this statement.

Extracts from this document...


Henning Fotland B00339586 Prof. O'Brien Dec. 9th 2002 "In Oedipus Tyranus, Oedipus is destroyed by his own flawed character." Asses this statement. To asses the accuracy of this claim, it is first necessary to view the character of Oedipus in the historical context in which Oedipus Rex was written. The prevailing political thinking in Ancient Greece was that a man was defined by his position and role within the polis. Oedipus is unquestionably a man of the people, his opening remark "Oh my children," (Soph. OT. 1) while addressing the priests and men gathered to ask his advice, indicates his authority and compassion for the suffering of his subjects. The period in which Oedipus Tyrannus was written was also one of incredible philosophical, scientific and mathematical progress, as such, the qualities most admired by Athenian society were those of rational and logical thought. The seeds of democratic ideals were sowed through the application of these faculties in the pursuit of truth and justice. Oedipus, the man who solved the riddle of the Sphinx, is the embodiment of all these highly valued ideals, his character is also one marked by reflective but decisive action. ...read more.


to reveal the terrible truth to Oedipus reveals a consistent and passionate desire for truth which does not deserve the title of mere flaw. Subsequently, to argue that Oedipus' flaw was inborn and that he was a victim of his own unchangeable destiny seems to undermine a basic tenant of tragedy. The nature of Sophocles' interpretation of the Oedipus myth necessitates that Oedipus be free to discover his nature and to precipitate his own downfall. Oedipus' rational faculties and his unrelenting search for the truth about himself reach their height at the point he realizes that he has neglected his own nature. His undeniably admirable desire to alleviate the suffering of his people must come at the expense of himself as his denunciation of the murderer of Liaus indicates: "...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!" (Soph. OT. 284-87) Although he unknowingly denounces himself, it is his commitment to stand by his decree which makes him a hero of tragic circumstance; "Drive me out of the land at once, far from sight, where I can never hear a human voice." (Soph. ...read more.


the basis of numerous contemporary playwrights, that Sophocles would only have chosen Oedipus a second time to develop what he had already created. In conclusion, I would argue that Oedipus was a representation of infallible moral and ethical stature, whose capabilities and commitment to the ideals of the time presented an argument common in Sophoclean literature; "no towering form of greatness enters into the lives of mortals free and clear of ruin." (Soph. Ant. 687-89) I do not agree that this principle requires an inherent flaw or that any of Oedipus' qualities could be faulted. I believe Sophocles argued that a balance between public and private or rational and spiritual personas must exist and that any excellence in one field will be to the detriment of the other. While this may be a fact of Sophoclean characters, I do not recognize that it requires a valuation of merit or flaw in those characters. Finally, I believe that Oedipus was not destroyed but enlightened by his self-discovery and that the catharsis he endured as a consequence of his actions made him a more powerful and complete character in Sophocles' subsequent treatment of him. His situation was tragic, but his adaptation and reaction to this situation was heroic. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Classical Studies section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Classical Studies essays

  1. What is the role of the nurse in different versions of the Hippolytus myth?

    The Romans used visual art to deal with aspects of human emotion that they found difficult or unacceptable to address. Plate 1.4 (The Open University p.12) shows the Hippolytus myth but concentrates on the roles of Phaedra and the nurse.

  2. Does Classical Mythology reflect a disposition to explore the realities of the world or ...

    The challenge the status quo was to challenge the ruling authorities which, undeniably lead to trouble; Socrates was forced to commit suicide for his challenging behaviour. Within the empire, different communities would often draw upon different gods and goddesses to be their main focus of worship.

  1. Greek tragedies often establish free will and fate as the driving forces of the ...

    He blames the Shepherd for saving him instead of leaving him to die. Once Oedipus hears the whole story, he can't handle the truth. O-god, 1307 all come true, all burst to light! O light- now let me look my last on you!

  2. What can be meant by: "Knowledge is the true organ of sight, not the ...

    to find answers about who we are and where we came from, to maybe even where we are headed.

  1. Free essay

    Could a female be as heroic as a male character in Greek tragedy?

    We must therefore consider whether his death is justified, and whether Clytemnestra herself deserves the title of 'heroine' which has frequently been debated. According to Aristotle, the best type of tragic hero exists between the extremes of good and bad in character.

  2. What, if anything, is particularly Athenian about Greek tragedy?

    For example, many plays are based fundamentally upon a conflict between oikos and polis, very Athenian concepts. A good example may well be that of Agammenon in Euripides' Iphigeneia at Aulis: he chooses to favour his bond to his polis over that to his oikos when he decides to kill

  1. AntigoneDiscuss and analyse the themes which arise in Sophocles' Antigone

    According to critic Judith Butler, the following statement by Creon shows the ideal female disposition: "From this time forth, these must be women, and not free to roam." The point she is making is that restriction of movement and submission to the authority of men is not just appropriate for women, it defines women as a category.

  2. Republic of Plato Essay - Ignorance, and Philosophical Conflict

    separation from the masses, nor is there an ultimate achievement of the philosopher. The philosopher of the city begins having to prove himself and explore the truth, but is able to live more comfortably later philosophizing having earned this high rank.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work