Essay on The Ultimate Greek Tragedy is Sophocles' Opedipus the King

Essay on The Ultimate Greek Tragedy is Sophocles' Opedipus the King

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According to Aristotle, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is the ultimate example of a Greek tragedy. In his work, Poetics, he states numerous reasons of what makes a story a tragedy. Oedipus the King embodies all of the qualities that make a story a tragedy. Oedipus the King does not only cause catharsis, but Oedipus is a hero who has a tragic flaw which, in turn, leads to his demise.
By having the predictions made by the oracles come true; it led to the downfall of Oedipus. The oracles coming true created catharsis in the audience by causing them to have pity and fear for the fallen king. Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy is:
It is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possessing magnitude; in embellished language, each kind of which is used separately in the different parts; in the mode of action and not narrated; and effecting through pity and fear the catharsis of emotions. (1149)
The story begins by having the audience feel pity for the people of Thebes. The Priest tells Oedipus, “Plague blackens our flowering farmland, sickens our cattle where they graze. Our women in labor give birth to nothing” (708). Oedipus feels bad for the people, and the audience does as well, and states that he will track down the murderer of Laios. With his statement, he lets the people know if they know who the killer is and refuse to disclose the known information, their “silence will cost them” (714).The fact that he is willing to punish anyone who knows about Laios’ death brings the audience to fear his fierceness. Aristotle also states a tragedy must be complete - having a beginning, middle and end. He states, “A well-constructed plot, therefore, will neither begin at some chance point nor end at some chance point” (1150). The...

... middle of paper ... quickly from this place. I am the most ruined, the most cursed, the most god-hated man who ever lived” (742). Oedipus is then to be pitied when he says, “‘You'd ask about a broken man like me?’ Kreon replies, ‘Surely, by now, you’re willing to trust god’” (1263). Sophocles’ intent is for Oedipus to take responsibility for his all of his troubles. The audience could not possibly watch all of this happen without feeling pity, for Oedipus, or being frightened by what he is willing to do to redeem his ignorance of the gods, which again causes catharsis.
Aristotle tells us that a tragedy has a beginning, middle and an end (Aristotle 1150). By the beginning of the play, Oedipus has already achieved his prophecy. The play has a true beginning, middle, and end and Oedipus, the tragic hero, falls due to his own mistakes making Oedipus the King the ultimate Greek Tragedy.

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