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

In the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, Sophocles examines the idea of a just and proper ruler in the time of crisis

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐In the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, Sophocles examines the idea of a just and proper ruler in the time of crisis by presenting the life of King Oedipus. King Oedipus is a just ruler that is beloved by the people of Thebes because he saved them from the Sphinx that was terrorizing the city, by solving the Sphinxes? riddle. King Oedipus ruled Thebes for several years before an awful plague reached Thebes and he was called to solve the problem. Sophocles shows what is required to be a just and proper ruler in a time of crisis by examining the mistakes made by King Oedipus that eventually lead to his downfall. Oedipus? constant ignorance of the truth and his testing of the limits of free will are the mistakes made by King Oedipus that ruin his life and cost him his throne at Thebes. Throughout the play, Sophocles gives the audience clues on what we are to believe are characteristics of a good ruler. King Oedipus is famous in Thebes for his compassion, his sense of justice, his swiftness of thought and action, and his honesty. Early in the play, Oedipus signifies all that Athenians would want in a leader. In his first speech, which he delivers to a priest, he repeatedly voices his distress for the health and well-being of his people. ...read more.


This is perhaps why Jocasta feels she can tell Oedipus of the prophecy that her son would kill his father, and Oedipus can tell her about the analogous prophecy given to him by an oracle, and neither feels compelled to talk about the coincidence. Oedipus also hears the story of Jocasta binding her child’s ankles, and does not think of his own swollen feet. She said “As for the child, it was not three days old When Laius fastened both its feet together and had it cast over a precipice.”[5] While the information in these speeches is largely intended to make the audience aware of the tragic irony, it also emphasizes just how desperately Oedipus and Jocasta do not want to speak the obvious truth: they look at the circumstances and details of everyday life and pretend not to see them. Sophocles poses the question of whether it is more important to know the truth, no matter how gruesome it may be, or to be oblivious and naïve. Sophocles obviously thinks that knowing the truth is more valuable of a virtue even if it shows a person something that they do not wish to see. Sophocles uses his King Oedipus’ vision as a metaphor that he eventually loses at the end of the play when he pokes his eyes out and blinds himself as he learns the truth that he murdered his father and slept with his mother: the oracle’s prophecy did in fact come true. ...read more.


It didn?t matter how many good characteristics that King Oedipus possessed, his fate was set by the gods and even if he didn?t make the wrong choices in the play, his destiny would have ended up in the very same place. In Sophocles play Oedipus Rex, he examines the idea of what a just and proper ruler is in a time of crisis and he uses two main themes throughout the play to do so. Even though Oedipus has numerous admirable qualities such as candor, swiftness, just, and compassion, these are not all that ruler needs in a time of crisis. Sophocles implies throughout the book that in a time of crisis a ruler needs to accept the truth as well as his destiny. Ignoring the truth ultimately led to King Oedipus? downfall even though his destiny was failure in the first place. ________________ [1] Sophocles, Oedipus the King (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 51, ln. 93-94 [2] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 53, ln. 126-128 [3] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 53, ln. 130-134 [4] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 76, ln. 842-847 [5] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 72, ln. 717-719 [6] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 93, ln. 1329-1334 [7] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 63, ln. 458-459 [8] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 94, ln. 1360-1363 [9] Sophocles, Oedipus the King, pg. 95, ln. 1414-1415 ...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. Free essay

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

    But hurt her marriage and there's no bloodier spirit.' (Medea 262-5) It is the Watchman, stationed on the palace roof who first introduces us to Clytemnestra: '...in whose woman's heart a man-like will breeds hope.' (Ag. 10-11) This straight away suggests, albeit subtly, she is a woman with the potential to express independent, masculine characteristics.

  2. Shakespeare one word play in King Lear

    This is a serious fault in a dramatist, but it does not fit in with Tolstoy's picture of Shakespeare as a vulgar hack who has no opinions of his own and merely wishes to produce the greatest effect with the least trouble.

  1. What is the main contribution made by the Chorus in The Burial at Thebes? ...

    The end of this ode from the chorus, however could be advice applied to both Antigone and Creon, as the play unfolds, and therefore increases the moral ambiguity which seems to be a core function of the chorus at many times throughout the play.

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

    Land owners are fortunate people, even though landownership in a conquered territory could not be the mark of privilege that it had been in a city-state like Athens. Under Roman rule, there was no differentiation between women and men in terms of political rights in the sense that both sexes were equally subject to the Romans.

  1. What do the literary and historical texts tell us about Roman attitudes towards Egypt?

    was embraced by the native Egyptians as a symbol of their nationalism.' (1999: 506) Nevertheless, Juvenal's criticisms of Egypt extend further than religion. His subsequent condemnation of Egyptian natives perhaps accounts for why he is seen by Reinhold as even more contemptuous than Dio in his approach to the province.

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

    And yet, whilst Callicles seeks pleasure with largely egotistical motives, for an Epicurean, the only way one should receive pleasure is through altruistic means. An Epicurean's self-interest is conditional on those around him - friendship, and surrounding one's self with like-minded folk is something Epicurus himself emphasises is of great importance.

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

    animals?one would perish before he has been of any use to city or friends and be of no profit to himself or others. Taking all this into the calculation, he keeps quiet and minds his own business?as a man in a storm, when dust and rain are blown about by the wind, stands aside under a little wall.

  2. In Book 9 of Homers The Iliad, Aias seemingly plays a very minor role ...

    However, he underestimates Achilleus?s stubbornness and obedience to the gods. In his response, Achilleus gives Aias the ultimate respect: ?Son of Telamon, seed of Zeus, Aias, lord of the people: /all that you have said seems spoken after my own mind? (Homer, Iliad 9: 644-645).

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