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Oedipus & Medea Tragic Heroes Essay

2065 words - 9 pages

Aristotle a century after Sophocles wrote Oedipus The King and around the same time Euripides was writing Medea began to create his own ingredients to what makes a tragic hero. In Aristotle’s Poetics he writes what specifically makes a good tragedy and what must make up tragic hero. Firstly, one must experience catharsis which in Greek means, the releasing of emotion. The emotion that the tragic hero usually arouses in the audience is that of pity and fear. Secondly the tragic hero must be superior to his audience either through a special ability or social rank. Lastly the events to which have led to the tragic hero’s downfall has come from their own doing. In this paper I will explain ...view middle of the document...

Teiresias states “Just send me home. You bear your burdens, I’ll bear mine. It’s better that way, please believe me.” (Sophocles 401) Oedipus very persistently asks Teiresias what information he might have and Teiresias gives in by telling him that Oedipus himself is the one he is looking for. Tieiresias states “ Revealed at last, brother and father both to the children he embraces, to his mother son and husband both- he sowed the loins his father sowed, he spilled his father’s blood.” (Sophocles 405) Through this passage Teiresias reveals Oedipus killed his father and is now married to his mother. Appalled by these accusations Oedipus demands Teiresias be taken from his sight and Creon be summoned to assess his role in these false accusations. After a verbal battle between Creon and Oedipus Creon leaves and Oedipus tells her what the prophet has said. She comforts Oedipus by telling him that it is impossible the prophecy is true. “An oracle came to Laius one fine day and it said that doom would strike him down at the hands of as son, our son, to be born of our own flesh and blood. But Lauis, so the report goes at least, was killed by strangers, thieves, at a place where the roads meet… my son- he wasn’t three days old and the boy’s father fastened his ankles, had a henchman fling him away on a barren, trackless mountain.” (Sophocles 411) But hearing this made Oedipus think of a place where three roads met where he once killed a stranger for not letting him pass by. Jocasta tell him of one sole witness who watched Laius’ death survived and so Oedipus summons him for his version of the story. Oedipus begins to tell Jocasta his background before he arrived to Thebes. He tells her that an oracle told him he would kill his father and marry his mother thus he left his home to avoid this fate. But Oedipus fears that a stranger he came upon who he kills might have been Laius . The audience finds out through a messenger’s and shepard’s stories that Oedipus is the one who killed Laius and Jocasta is his real mother. Oedipus banishes himself and strikes out his eyes.

Oedipus was probably Aristotle’s ideal character he exhibited all the characteristics of a tragic hero. From the beginning of the Sophocles establishes Oedipus as someone better than the rest by the way he speaks to people in the city

“Oh my children, the new blood of ancient Thebes, why are you here? Huddling at my altar, praying before me, your branches wound in wool. Our city reeks with smoke of burning incense, rings with cries for the Healer and wailing for the dead. I though it wrong my children, to hear the truth from others messengers, Here I am myself- you all know me, the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus.” (Sophocles 392) By Oedipus referring to the common people of Thebes as children the reader gets as sense of a certain grandiose regard Oedipus has for himself as well as his god-like rank with people...

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