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Oedipus Rex Essay

753 words - 4 pages

Widely considered one of the best Greek tragedies, Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles tells of the misfortune of a great man who tried to fight a terrible fate, ultimately bringing down misfortune and sorrow upon them. King Oedipus, ruler of Thebes, the protagonist and tragic hero of the play, hears of a terrible prophecy condemning him to slay his own father and bed his mother, leading him to run far away from the place he considered his home. However, as many Greek playwrights, Sophocles underscored the impossibility of fighting a fate set by the cunning, often cruel, gods, making Oedipus fulfill the prophecy, which ultimately leads to his downfall. A story brimming with irony, foreshadowing and ...view middle of the document...

When he heard the Oracle at Delphi’s prophecy for his fate, his first instinct was to fight it, leading him to flee Corinth in the hopes of avoiding the plight. Although this may be considered an appropriate, fearful response to such a horrific prophecy, Greek culture dictated that a prophecy from the Gods was not something that a mere mortal could alter. Hence, Oedipus’s reaction is the product of a great amount of pride; pride that is his eventual ruin. This pride allows him to, upon hearing of Polybus—his supposed father’s—death, say, “why should a man worry about the oracles of Delphi or the augury birds overhead,” dismissing them as meaningless in his deluded joy of escaping a terrible fate. (Act III, scene i, page 6) Moreover, it is his pride that originally led to him killing Laius, his real father. A simple meeting in the road and the clashing of two titanic egos, one in a younger, stronger body—Oedipus—and one, older, worse for wear—Laius. Laius simply struck Oedipus on the back of his head, something easily forgotten. However, the wound to his pride had been too severe and as he...

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