Oedipus the King: Bliss in Ignorance


Length: 854 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document



Oedipus Rex - Bliss in Ignorance   

 One of the most memorable and meaningful Socratic quotes applies well when in context of Sophocles' Theban Trilogy. "The unexamined life is not worth living," proclaims Socrates. He could have meant many things by this statement, and in relation to the play, the meaning is found to be even more complex.

Indeed, the situation of Oedipus, king of Thebes, the truth of this statement is in question. Would Oedipus have been better off if he was blind to the knowledge of his birth and the fate which was foretold to someday befall him? Truly though, his life would have been a far better and easier path had he never known about his true origins. His life in Corinth would have been long and prosperous, and Thebes would have lived on under King Laius. In fact, everyone would have been better off in the long run if Oedipus had not ventured out beyond the walls of Corinth.

 So is it worth living an examined life? Socrates had made this statement long after the creation of the Theban Trilogy. In the context of his own time, this was meant to imply that life must be examined and reflected upon, known and discovered by each individual philosopher to better enrich life for all. Yet in terms of Sophoclean drama, specifically Oedipus Rex, this was meant in a vastly different way. The unexamined life was one that was in the dark, unknown as to what fate lied beyond every turn and irony of living.

Oedipus, up to the point in which he heard the comment in the tavern in Corinth, lived an unexamined life. To Socrates, he was an unfulfilled man, one who deserved to know more, one who was not complete. However, in a much less metaphysical sense, Oedipus' life was complete, in that he had all that he needed, and was living a happy and fruitful life.

As the drama progresses, he finds out more and more, learning exactly what the implications of his birth was, he suffers the fate for examining his life. So what Socrates had meant, that the life which was not rich with self exploration and reflection was not worth living, was indeed different than its application in terms of Oedipus, who's life was unexamined, yet complete.

The question arises, what would life have been like, if Oedipus had not discovered his true origins?

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Oedipus the King: Bliss in Ignorance." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Sep 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=3578>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Oedipus the King: The Tragic Flaws Of Oedipus Essay - The ancient Greeks were fond believers of Fate. Fate, defined according to Webster’s, is “the principle or determining cause or will by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as the do.” The Greeks take on Fate was slightly modified. They believed that the gods determined Fate: “…fate, to which in a mysterious way the gods themselves were subject, was an impersonal force decreeing ultimate things only, and unconcerned with day by day affairs.” It was thought that these gods worked in subtle ways; this accounts for character flaws (called harmatia in Greek)....   [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles] 1052 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Oedipus The King-a Tangled Web Essay - The choir represents the voice of the people, the voice of the masses. People often conform to this uniform truth, they want to be like other people. This conformation leads to a uniform voice from the public. This voice is often ignorant to the truth, seemingly to the point that it creates its own truth. This is seen often in Oedipus the King, by Sophocles. They believe that Oedipus is godly, even when they have found out that he is the cause of their plague. It is not until the end that their haze of false truth clears, and they turn against Oedipus....   [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles] 657 words
(1.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Oedipus the King by Sophocles Essay example - ... When Oedipus’s begins to understand the true nature of his actions, his fear begins to manifest into something more powerful than a simple rational fear. It is the fear of seeing something that was once unknown become suddenly a huge, damaging part of our lives that can drown us in anxiety and dread. We can see a direct example of how the story of Oedipus relates the fear of the unknown verses the known when Oedipus travels to Delphi to visit the oracle, the place where he receives his second prophecy. “I went to the shrine at Delphi....   [tags: thebes, fear, truth] 1035 words
(3 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about Tragedy in Oedipus the King and Doll's House - Only Peace in Death Tragedy has been apart of human history since the dawning of civilization. Man has been plunged into terrible tragedies for ages. But not until the Greeks and prominent playwrights such as Sophocles did tragedy take on into its own on the stage. Out of this rebirth of tragedy came what has been considered, even by Aristotle himself, the greatest tragedy ever written, Oedipus the King. He delves into the human psyche: bringing forth the notion of predestination, a supposition desperately believed in by humans, betraying the fatal flaws of his hero and manifesting the suffering brought upon the hero by his tragic downfall....   [tags: essays research papers] 1052 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Oedipus Rex vy Sophocles Essay - Sophocles utilizes the element of fate in Oedipus Rex. Fate seems to determine Oedipus' life, but he does have a free will. His choices brought the prophecy to life. Only his decisions determined the outcomes of his situations. Of course those decisions were inside of the limits set by fate. Through Sophocles’ use of foreshadowing in the play Oedipus Rex, certain truths are revealed to the reader, such as the fact that a lack of respect for fate can eventually bring on a person’s downfall, by driving them to delusion....   [tags: Athenian tragedy] 1030 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Role of the Chorus in Oedipus the King Essay - What is the Role of the Chorus in Oedipus the King . In answering this question, I will look at the question in two ways. Firstly, I will look at the role of the chorus objectively, examining the basic role of the chorus in the play, and looking at the role of the Chorus as Sophocles would have intended the role of the Chorus to be understood. However, I will then look at how I think the Greek audience would have perceived the role of the Chorus and then how the role of the Chorus is perceived today by a 20th century and examine the key differences in the two different sets of perceptions....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex] 1308 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Oedipus the King and Maslow's Pyramid - Oedipus the King and Maslow's Pyramid        People have long considered general theories of motivation, and the question regarding the specific motives that direct and energize our human behavior has undergone tremendous speculation. To this day the question still stands: what is it that humans seek most in life. In an effort to answer this question, Abraham Maslow proposed what he called the hierarchy of needs. Maslow theorizes that human beings are motivated to fulfill this hierarchy, which consists of needs ranging from those that are basic for survival up to those that promote growth and self-enhancement (Kassin 300)....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
:: 2 Works Cited
1692 words
(4.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Free Oedipus the King Essays: Oedipus as the Hero Archetype - Oedipus as the Hero Archetype   The character Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus the King follows a literary pattern known as the hero archetype. The hero archetype is a pattern involved with transformation and redemption. Manifest in three stages called the quest, the initiation, and the sacrifice, Oedipus is transformed from the redeemer of the city to the cause of its downfall. These three stages are clearly revealed and although they are separate entities, each intertwine. Prior to the opening of the story Oedipus begins the first stage, known as the quest....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex] 493 words
(1.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Oedipus as Scapegoat in Oedipus the King - Oedipus as Scapegoat in Oedipus the King        The great psychologist-philosopher Carl Jung was briefly a student of Freud. Because Jung felt that Freud's approach to psychoanalysis was by far too narrow, he broke off from his teachings, and made significant contributions to mythological criticism. Jung's greatest contribution was his theory of archetypes. His proposal of archetypes argues that there is one original pattern or model of all things of the same type. According to Jung, beneath the personal unconscious is a collective unconscious that is in the psychic inheritance of all humans....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
:: 4 Works Cited
1496 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay Oedipus the King - Oedipus the King The uniqueness of the story of Oedipus the King lies in the fact that it is not told, but uncovered. Intertwined within are the workings of fate, which ultimately propel the uncovering of the story (Driver 247). The past is relied upon to solve the mystery of the present; however, it is learned by all that actions taken in the past will not change the fate of the future. The gods of Sophocles are the forces which operate within the cosmos, thus giving its consistency and order....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex] 394 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches




If he had stayed in Corinth, would this have ever happened? We find that indeed, we would have had no story, if not for that lone comment of a drunkard which sparked the fire of rebellion in the young prince Oedipus. He ventured out to Delphi, to pry knowledge of his background out of it, and to discover if this was indeed the truth, despite the fact that his adopted parents of Corinth had assured him of it falseness.

Oedipus leaves Corinth, fulfilling the Socratic idea of the unexamined life. However, we must evaluate the eventual consequences of his actions and the implications which they possess. What becomes of his fateful journey out of Corinth leads to the downfall of an entire city and family line. If he had not murdered King Laius, the Sphinx would have never descended upon Thebes, he would have never fulfilled the prophecy, and all would have lived on in a relative peace and tranquillity.

Once examining these aspects of the relationship between the quote and Oedipus Rex, we can come to a final examination of its implications. The question which was addressed, that of the value of the examined life, can be answered. Indeed, if Oedipus had not ventured beyond the protective walls of his adopted home, would anything such as what occurred in the play ever have transpired? If Oedipus had not pursued that answers to the mysteries that plagued him, despite the pleading warnings of Iöcasta, in fact his life would have been contented and happy. Instead, he follows the Socratic method of exploration and discovery, and proceeds down the path of pain and distraught. Was, after it was over, all worth it? We find that no, it was not. Being content and suited with what he knew of himself would have saved Oedipus and his children/siblings much agony. However, in the typical Greek tragedy, we must see his fall from grace through, which is indeed what happens. In the bliss of ignorance, much pain and difficulty is averted. For what worries does the ignorant man have? In the case of Oedipus, ignorance would have suited him fine.

The Socratic quote "the unexamined life is not worth living" certainly doesn't hold true in the case of Oedipus Rex. While it may hold importance and a substantial meaning for our own lives, in the case of Oedipus Rex, he would have been better off without it. Indeed, for while the unexamined life is poor in a metaphysical sense, Oedipus would have truly been fine without it. For the unexamined life is a simple one, and he would have lived a long and happy life, never discovering the true nature of his birth, nor even caring.

 


Return to 123HelpMe.com