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

    It could therefore be argued that Hesiod's Theogony was accepted because he was seen as a man who understood many things and was educated, that his 'teachings' were therefore to be respected and repeated. It was later through the works of educated men like Critias that these accepted works began to be challenged, though not always in an open way.

  2. The Romans had a primarily utilitarian approach to myth Do you agree with this ...

    and building new temples, these included the 'hut of Romulus' which had previously been destroyed by fire. These acts showed him to be respectful of Rome's history and traditions, he was restoring Rome to its former glory (Hughes & Hope 2011).

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

    The audience blames the nurse for Hippolytus' death as it is by her actions that Thesus brings about his death. Without the nurse's presence in the play, Phaedra would have brought about her downfall single handedly, whilst Hippolytus would have emerged alive and with his reputation intact.

  2. Free essay

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

    Agamemnon is by all means, an unpleasant character - not only for sacrificing his own daughter, but from the little time he spends onstage, he could easily be described as arrogant. We are told by the Chorus of his virtuous nature, and yet towards Clytemnestra, he shows nothing but contempt.

  1. What were the roles, privileges and rights of women in both public and private ...

    M..ter-Senosiris, a Persian, the daughter of Psennesis, her mother being Thaesis, aged 4x, with a scar on the left shoulder, with her guardian being her husband Pisechthis, the son of Psennesis, aged 45, agrees with Metis-Tapsais, the daughter of Psennesis, granddaughter of Ps..., her mother being Tbekis, to nurse the

  2. How would an Epicurean respond to Callicles argument (in Platos Gorgias) on pleasure?

    power and greatness - could never be temperate: 'Finding themselves free to enjoy good things, with no obstacle in the way, they would be merely imposing on themselves a master in the shape of the law, the talk and the rebuke of the multitude.

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

    Although a philosopher who associates with either mindset will still philosophize, his attitude of ignorance will either generate comfort in knowing his achievement, or a constant compulsion to gain more wisdom. While whatever approach the philosopher takes towards ignorance affects his attitude in learning, it also affects his relation towards society.

  2. In the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, Sophocles examines the idea of a just and ...

    in the first place, so one can imagine his dismay and denial when the facts begin fall into place that he has murdered his own father. When Oedipus and Jocasta begin to arrive at the truth about Laius?s murder, Oedipus fastens onto a detail in the hope of absolving himself.

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