Justice in Oedipus the King

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Justice in Oedipus the King

After reading Oedipus the King, one may think that in this story, there was no

justice, and nobody could avoid their fate. King Laius and Queen Jocasta,

fearing the prophecy of the Delphic oracle, had the young Oedipus left on Mount

Cithaeron to die, but the father dies and the son marries the mother anyway.

Oedipus, seemingly a good person, also tries to avoid the second prophecy, only

to fulfill the first. But even through all this, I have done some research and

feel that there was justice in Oedipus, The King, and their fate wasn't

completely sealed.

First, the murder of King Laius. Laius seemed to die a unwarranted death,

but he was not necessarily in complete innocence, for he had done some malicious

things earlier in his life, such as the attempted murder of his son, Oedipus,

and the kidnapping and rape of Chrysippus, a young man Laius fell in love with

before Jocasta. And Oedipus wasn't as guilty under ancient Greek law as he is

under our modern laws. It was every Greek's duty to harm his/her enemies, and

as far as Oedipus knew, King Laius was an enemy.

Queen Jocasta wasn't exactly guiltless, either. The great Queen had also

tried with King Laius to kill their son, and had no respect for the prophecies

of Apollo: "A prophet? Listen to me and learn some peace of mind: no skill in

the world, nothing human can penetrate the future." She was also the other half

of a mother-son marriage. Greek law considered the act, not the motive -

meaning that even though she nor Oedipus knew they were related, they committed

the crime.

Finally, Oedipus's guilt. In some ways, Oedipus was the most guilty of

them all. Consider his 'hubris'. He regarded himself as almost a god, assuming

that since he alone had solved the sphinx's riddle, he was the one of the gods'

favorites. He was very quick to judge, and judged on the most flimsy of

evidence. He calls on Tiresias to tell him what he should do, and when he

doesn't like what he hears, Oedipus says, "Your words are nothing - futile", and

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