Looking at Greek Mythology we tend to encounter the gods of that time. Sometimes they work in the background of the human part of the story, but in epics like The Odyssey the gods play a very large if not central role in the main developments of the story.
November 30, 2017
The Endless Journey
Imagine returning home from both a mentally and physically demanding battle, only to realize the most challenging task yet is to face the task of fitting in with the ordinary. A soldier can never truly return home to join a society. One can return from battle in their physical state, though both their mentality and perspective of the world cannot be restored to what once was. The scars and numerous hardships associated with war change a person beyond their appearing attributes, profoundly affecting the mind and soul; a previous life is never the same when an individual returns as a drastically different character.
In Sophocles ' Oedipus the King, the themes of fate and free will are very strong throughout the play. Only one, however, brought about Oedipus ' downfall and death. Both points could be argued to great effect. In ancient Greece, fate was considered to be a rudimentary part of daily life. Every aspect of life depended and was based upon fate (Nagle 100). It is common belief to assume that mankind does indeed have free will and each individual can decide the outcome of his or her life. Fate and free will both decide the fate of Oedipus the King.
Fate, as described in the Oxford English Dictionary, is “The principle, power, or agency by which, according to certain philosophical and popular systems of belief, all events, or some events in particular, are unalterably predetermined from eternity.” To the western world, fate is perceived as “a sentence or doom of the gods” (Oxford). They often sought prophecies of the gods, especially from Apollo, the god of knowledge. The Greeks would seek prophecies usually when they had doubts about something, or if they were afraid or in despair. When the gods made a prophecy, the Greeks put all their faith in it and believed that it would happen. When their prophecies did come true, was it really fate that controlled them? If so, was there any room for free will?
The Odyssey: Human Will
In “The Odyssey,” Odysseus lives in a world where there is no room for the human will.
Human choices can make a tremendous difference in his world. The god, Helios, was one who made it difficult for Odysseus to get home with his crew. Another included the witch-goddess, Circe, who delays Odysseus and his men from their homecoming.
The concept of fate versus free will is very much like a map. One has a destination, but many possible routes to get there. The destination is one’s fate, but the paths, or free will, is what controls when and how one will get there. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles argues that Oedipus’ choices, not his prophesied destiny, ultimately causes his downfall. Oedipus’ decision to be prideful, stubborn, and rash all contributes to his impending doom. In Thebes, the law of free will prevails over men.
Another thought that exemplifies the significance that free will holds, is seen in elements of Sophocles' classic, which revealed that Oedipus had more knowledge over the details of his dilemma than he let himself become conscious of. The last idea will reveal how the onset of fear will push people down a treacherous path of risk and pain, which is also seen in the play through multiple characters. Free will is an attribute that all people possess. It could work as a tool to get individuals through the scary twists their lives may entail. It could also work against them in many ways, which depends on the level of human weakness and ignorance. But, the most important assertion that can be made after considering the argument of, "fate vs. free will," is that...
For this paragraph I will talk about religion. The greeks were polytheistic. Polytheistic means that you worship many gods. Some of the gods that they worshiped were Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, ect. They were worshipped on Mount Olympus. Poseidon and Athena play a big role in The Odyssey. One of Homer's ideas was dues ex machina, which means that a god swoops down and solves your problems and makes peace. I know one led to the other because the events in real life led to the creation of the event in The Odyssey.
Socrates, a Greek philosopher stated, "Look death in the face with joyful hope, and consider this a lasting truth: the righteous man has nothing to fear, neither in life, nor in death, and the Gods will not forsake him” (Socrates). This explains the basis for Greek beliefs that can be carried over to values and qualities of them. As in this, Homer, the author of The Odyssey, portrays many Greek values that make up a righteous man or as, Homer’s character Odysseus, an epic hero. The Odyssey is the story of King Odysseus' return from the Trojan War to his kingdom of Ithaca. Stories, like The Odyssey, are told with the intent of delivering a message that was important to their culture. Through characters and situations, The Odyssey promotes and emphasizes many important ancient Greek values such as hospitality, pride, and fate.
If prophecy were to be real, one could expect what is bound to happen in the future. This is true; at least in “Oedipus the King” in which the protagonist, Oedipus calls forth his doom unwillingly. Fate is defined as something that unavoidably befalls a person. The author of “Oedipus the King,” Sophocles, writes a tragic fate that Oedipus was born to experience. Fate is what is meant to happen and cannot be avoided or unchanged. Furthermore, events that lead to other events could be the result for one to meet their fate. In “Oedipus the King,” Sophocles expresses the nature of fate to be determined upon choices made.