Through the character of Oedipus, Sophocles shows the consequences of defying the divine order. Oedipus served Thebes as a great ruler, loved by his subjects; but, like most in the human race, he slipped through the cracks of perfection. Oedipus had many faults, but it was primarily the tragic flaw of hubris, arrogance from excessive pride, which doomed his existence, regardless of the character attributes that made him such a beloved king. He was doomed for downfall since his very beginning, because "to flee your fate is to rush to find it" (Oedipus Rex).
Oedipus, throughout this work, seems more than a merely passive player lost in the hands of fate. He makes critical errors in judgment that set the events of the story into action. His pride and arrogance, blindness and ignorance, as well as foolishness and quick temper all play a part in the tragedy that befalls him.
Oedipus's pride sets it all off; when a drunken man tells him that his father is not who he thinks, his pride is so wounded that he will not let the subject rest, eventually going to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi to find the truth. A less proud man may have not needed to visit the oracle, giving him no reason to leave Corinth in the first place (Segal, 121). It is impossible to speculate what may have happened to Oedipus had he stayed in Corinth, but it is the attempt to avoid his fate that dooms him not only to fulfill the prophesy, but to suffer yet greater consequences (Segal, 122). "I heard all that and ran. I abandoned Corinth, from that day on I gauged its landfall only by the stars, running, always running toward some place where I would never see the shame of ...
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...rs were bold and daring, known for their intelligence and heroism. But they were also known for their arrogance and their "risk it all" attitudes. On one hand, they saw themselves as protectors of the city, while at the same time they were unable to defend themselves as individuals (Oedipus the King).
Bloom, Harold, ed. Sophocles. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. 54-57.
Oedipus Rex. 25 February 2003. http://www.classicnote.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/oedipus/summ2.html.
Oedipus the King. 26 February 2003. http://www.novelguide.com/oedipustheking/themeanalysis/html.
Segal, Charles. Tragedy and Civilization: an interpretation of Sophocles. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c.1999. 121-122.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Norton Anthology World Masterpieces. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York: Norton, 1984. 599-639.
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