Words like destiny, fate, and predestination have a much meaning to people today, as countless people believe in it. On the other hand, the belief that a person controls his life has been established as an opposing belief. The book Oedipus the King, a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles, examines this debate between fate and choice. Although some people argue that the tragedies that took place in Oedipus' life were destined to happen, the grim circumstances that surrounded Oedipus' life were the result of his own free will and the decisions he made about many of these circumstances.
The question has been raised as to whether Oedipus was a victim of fate or of his own actions. This essay will show that Oedipus was a victim of fate, but he was no puppet because he freely and actively sought his doom, although he was warned many times of the inevitable repercussions of his actions.
Sophocles’ tragic play, “Oedipus the King”, or “Oedipus Rex” as it’s known by its Latin name, is the Athenian drama that revolves around the events which lead to the demise of Oedipus Rex. The King Oedipus is forced down a preordained path that throws his entire world into a spiral of tragic providence, in this trilogy of a Theban play. Sophocles assigns the tragic hero to a downfall with the impossibility of changing the written fate; perhaps the views of today’s society would feel sympathy for the predicament that Oedipus is forced into, however, the publics of ancient Greece would accept that the path laid before them was a creation of the Gods. “Oedipus the King” reflects the ancient Greek credence in the belief that a person can do nothing to avoid their destiny, an idea that contrasts with what society believes today.
Thesis Statement: In the story of Oedipus Rex, Sophocles concludes that fate is an all-powerful force which controls every action, and that every choice made by man’s free will, whether wise or foolish, all lead to the inevitable fate the gods have written for them.
In Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex", fate truly is a huge factor in many scenes and events. According to ancient Greek belief, the word of God was fate, and fate was the word of God. Therefore, every event that ever happened was predetermined and unchangeable. Oedipus himself has been completely victimized by fate. In the beginning of the play, he was "fated" to kill his father and marry his own mother and conceive children with her. Since it was the word of Apollo, the god, to the Greeks it meant that it was unchangeable. Oedipus escaped Corinth, the supposed city of his birth, and ran far away. He happened upon an old man in the crossroads-a fated event. Though he did not know it at the time, when he killed the man, it turned out to be his own father-a prophecy he was destined by fate to fulfill (Elsom, 85).
“Fate’s Puppetry,” is a Project by Kenneth Meyerson about The Odyssey; by Homer. This project was designed to provide a better understanding of the powerful role fate in the world and how humans seem to be subject to fate. Within the story of The Odyssey, the gods are unaffected by fate and are witnesses to it. Some gods are actively trying to aid mankind who is subject to fate; however, the god’s aid is often futile. What is fate and how does fate affect human life? Moreover, what effect do the gods have upon human fate? Fate is defined in multiple dictionaries as the force or principle believed to predetermine events, a consequence or final result of an action taken, or inevitable death. In the context of this paper, fate is the outline or plot of a person’s or character’s life. Fate is present from the beginning of time to the end of time, and “time” for a human starts with an individual’s first recollections and ends with their last breath and conscious thought or observation. Gods do not have complete control over mortals and of mortal’s fate, as gods cannot dictate the choices that mortals make. Instead, as bystanders and overseers, gods can issue warnings or emulate decisions designed to influence others, but they cannot change fate alone. The individual mortal must in the end make choices that alter his fate and the fates of others.
Fate cannot be controlled. No matter what someone tries, no matter what someone does, no matter what someone believes they have accomplished, they have not controlled fate. In the play Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, fate was opposed with the notion of self-determined destiny. Duplicity, Calamity, and hyper-reality: these all were results of Oedipus knowing too much, yet at the same time, too little of his true lot in life. Though fate had granted him with the knowledge of his fate, he was missing the tiny, yet crucial piece of information of when the prophecy had been fulfilled. Thus the reality of what was, and reality as he perceived it left Oedipus selecting between two sets of irreconcilable facts, both of which he believed to be true. Ultimately, his inability to reconcile between two “truths” led to his mental and physical destruction.
The ancient story documented in the writing Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles follows the story of a clever and strong hero who has tragedy befall him. He is fated to kill his father and marry his mother as a result of his father not heeding a warning from the gods. Upon discovering this, Oedipus blinds himself in excruciating guilt, to cut off his senses from the world around him. This guilt is not deserved by Oedipus because he committed the heinous crimes unwittingly he thus, making him innocent of the actions that spurn on the tragic events that occur. While Oedipus possesses some character flaws, they were not conducive to the tragedies that transpire. Rather, he is a heroic and just man who suffers for no fault of his own because of a curse
Sixteenth century play writers often focused on the tragic irony of fate. One such play-writer is Sophacles. In one of his later plays, “Oedipus”, he writes the tragic story of a man who can’t avoid his pre-destined fate, and that some things just can’t be changed by the people in your life no matter how hard they try. Oedipus, the main character of this tragedy, he is a protagonist ruled by conflict and fate. This is evident in the characters traits and motivations, interactions with others, and the characters language and what others say about him.
Do people really have the freedom to choose the outcome of their life possibly reversing a prophecy or does fate always speak the final word despite human decision (Gale, 2015)? This query has bewildered mankind since the beginning of time. We are going to take a look at fate versus free will since it has been labeled as one of the major themes in the play Oedipus the King (Gale, 2015). One may wonder just how permitted we as humans are in making our own determinant decisions here on earth. With hundreds of religions and faiths in the world, there could be varying conclusions to this quandary but this report will focus on ancient Greek mythology, which presents the belief that the gods determine the fate of certain beings (Gale, 2015). In the
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). Ancient Greeks thought the gods would alter a person’s character, in order for that person to suffer (or gain from) the appropriate outcome. Such was the case in Oedipus’s story.
In the search for the essence of the tragedy, The Book of Job and Oedipus Rex are central. Each new tragic protagonist is in some degree a lesser Job or Oedipus, and each new work owes an indispensable element to the Counselors and to the Greek idea of the chorus.
Jevons, Frank B. (1997) “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press
The idea of fate has existed for a long time and exists even today. Fate revolves around the idea that people's lives are predetermined and that no matter what is done it cannot be changed. With the gods it was used to explain events that seemed strange. Sophocles expands on this idea by introducing Oedipus' fate. The thought of fate is strong considering no matter how hard he struggles he still receives what was predetermined. As a baby he survived the elements on Mount Cithaeron. As Oedipus was destined to live, it shows the dominance of fate. Having fate play such a large part of the play is certainly an insight into the Greek's idea that fate controls us no matter how hard we struggle against it.