In his tragic trilogy, The Theban Plays, Sophocles portrays the essence of Ancient Greek life; their culture, politics, religion and the maxims that are intended to guide their daily life through the actions of the main characters, Oedipus, Creon, and Antigone. Sophocles employs the use of thematic structures that coherently affects each character uniquely, and one of the most common themes depicted in these plays is that of fate vs freewill. In the Theban trilogy, Sophocles uses a well-structured theme of fate vs freewill to establish the relationship between the Greeks and the gods, as well as to illustrate the limits of mortality.
In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles Substantiates the power of fate over free will when Oedipus and his mother/wife, Jocasta, attempt but to no avail, to avert their predestined tragic undoing. When Oedipus learns of his fate to kill his father and marry his mother, he flees away from Corinth in an effort to escape his own undoing-- as seen during his discussion with the messenger who brings news of Polybus’ death (Lines 1090-1100). In this context, Oedipus tries to defy his fate through free will by running away from his supposed parents, but ironically that same fate brings him to the home of his real parents where his doom had already been sealed. By employing free will, we see that Oedipus hastens and facilitates the forthcoming of his inevitable end. This shows the overwhelming influence of fate regardless of the choices made by free will, and how the choices made by Tragic Heroes, no matter how free-willed, always resulted in the fulfilment of their tragic end. In Oedipus the king, we also witness the endeavors made by Queen Jocasta to evade the shame...
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... gods and is thus blessed in death (Lines 424-433). We can therefore conclude that Oedipus’ desired free will to escape his fate, led him to redemption. Despite his redemption, fate continues to influence the lives of his children: Antigone and Ismene doomed to carry their father’s shame, and Polynices and Etiocles, doomed to kill each other. Overall, we notice that in Greek Culture, fate holds more power over free will, but it is only through free will that the Greeks through learning by suffering, and are thus blessed by their gods. In conclusion it is safe to say that though fate holds more influence over free will, both fate and free will are of equal value to the Ancient Greeks.
By using a structured theme of fate vs free will in the Three Theban Plays, Sophocles achieved a definitive representation of how Fate vs Free Will benefited and impacted Ancient Greece.
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