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Aristotle's Analysis Of Oedipus The King

1293 words - 6 pages

Aristotle's Analysis of Oedipus Rex

    Aristotle is the most influential philosopher in the history of Western thought. A Greek drama by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, was praised in the Poetics of Aristotle as the model for classical tragedy and is still considered a principal example of the genre.  In this essay I will analyze Oedipus Rex using Aristotle's concepts praxis, poiesis, theoria.

            Thought and character make persons actions.  They only indicate the basic meaning of action but if one wants to understand how the arts imitate action more than just in concepts of thought and character he or she should explore the notion of it a little further.  Action springs from ...view middle of the document...

 Afterwards when Creon brings the Oracle?s word, the action becomes more clear as ?to find the murder?.  Oedipus becomes very eager to help the former king.  He asks the citizens of Thebes to assist him in finding the killer so that the killer may be banished from the town and this will bring an end to the plague.

Aristotle uses energeia as a word to cover any movement of spirit.  There are three different forms of it, praxis, poesis, theoria.  In praxis the motive is ?to do? something, in poesis the motive is ?to make? something, in theoria the motive is ?to grasp? something. These three modes of action prepare us only with rough classification of human actions. 

When Aristotle says ?action? or (praxis) in the Poetics, he usually implies on the whole working out of a motive to its actual end in success or failure.  Action (praxis) does not mean deeds, physical activities: it means, rather, the motivation from which deeds spring.  In praxis the motive is ?to do? something; Oedipus?s action can be seen as soon as he sees that he must find the slayer, is actually a praxis.  Oedipus actions, including those over the course of the play, were determined before his birth, and he cannot avoid them although it is his will to do so, those actions cannot be construed as real choice.  In the beginning of the drama, Oedipus learns that King Laius had been murdered.  He sets out to find the killer, not knowing that it is himself. Oedipus had killed the man unknowingly, when he had encountered him at a crossroads, in the town. Hearing the news of the King's death, he is angered and wants to find the killer. This begins the dramatic turn of events, and Oedipus downfall. 

            In poiesis the motive is ?to make? something.  It is the action of artists when they are concentrated upon a piece of the art work such as play, song, poem, which they are trying to construct.  I believe that Aristotle is trying to construct and show us that Greek beliefs during the time of Sophocles took for granted that all of man's actions were preordained.  Once the destiny of an individual was woven, it was irrevocable, and could not be altered, an individual could not of course evade his or her fate, and was sometimes punished terribly by the gods for trying to overstep the boundaries that were set by the Gods.  Oedipus fate has been determined at his birth.  He can not run away from it and Tereisias prophecy comes true.  He becomes a poor blind man who can now see the internal truth.  Oedipus fate is falling from sovereignity and fame to self-blinded degradation, which puts him in complete darkness from external truth, but makes him see the internal truth.  He is in the corridor with no side passages, and he is constrained in his choices.  In Rex, Oedipus says of his fate, "Some...

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