Fate against Free will in Oedipus the King by Sophocles Essay

Fate against Free will in Oedipus the King by Sophocles Essay

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The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that the events in Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, are the result of the hero’s self determination and restless attempt to escape a terrifying destiny predicted for him by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
My intention is to prove that although the Fates play a crucial part in the story, it is Oedipus'choices and wrong doing that ultimately lead to his downfall.
At first glance, it seems that the abhorrent destiny of the main character is at the mercy of mischievous and cruel gods.
However, upon examining all the tangible clues in the text, it becomes evident that Oedipus is himself a willing participant in his own doings.
Therefore the King was not a victim of fate, as many scholars seem to believe, and that he was never completely controlled by it.
In order to better understand this relationship between free will and cosmic order we need to take a close look at the myth.
According to Nagle, in the ancient world, fate and destiny held a crucial role in the lives of human beings. Every aspect of living was touched and influenced by the Gods who manifested themselves in a number of ways (Nagle 100).
The greek word for fate “anake” (necessity), epitomises the fatalistic belief that the universe and everything in it is governed by unforeseeable forces.
These forces personify in the form of three goddesses, the Moirai.
“Clotho” who spins the thread of life, “Lachesis” who determines the length of a life, and “Atropos” who cuts the thread of life. 
In conclusion, although the fates appear to be pre-written, men are allowed to exercise a certain influence upon them.

In The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche puts the Moirai above all knowledge and in control of the destiny of all ...


... middle of paper ...


...us the King. In Robert W. Corrigan (Ed.), Classical Tragedy Greek and Roman (pp. 245-251). New York, NY: Applause Theatre Book Publishers.



Nagle, Brendan D.  (1979). The Ancient World: A Cultural and Social History. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.


Eppley, George. "Confessing to Road Rage." Human Development 26.3 (2005): 48. 
Acedemic Search Complete. Muntz Lib., Tyler, TX. 25 Mar. 2009.


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

Aristotele, Poetics
London, Nick Hern Books


Nietzsche, F.W. The Birth of Tragedy
London, Dover Thrift S.



Dodds, E.R. "On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex." Greece & Rome, Second Series 13.1 (1996): 37-49. Jstor. Muntz Lib., Tyler, TX. 21 Mar. 2009.



Plato, Apology
The Bobbs-Merrill Company Library of Liberal Arts

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