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Oedipus Essay Essay, Research Paper

Man is a wonder, but God is a marvel

Comparison of quotes related to Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles.

1.) Fortunate is the man who has never tasted God s vengeance.

2.) Nevertheless are the world s wonders, but none more wonderful than man.

As we read the story of Oedipus, Iocaste, and Laios, we learn of the fate of man, as the Greeks once believed, and the strength of the gods. We are taught of the inevitability of a mans own destiny, and mans ignorance with the belief of changing his future against a god s will. Although there are a few disputable subjects, there is one universal idea that can be applied in our lives, obviously being that there is a superior essence that has all the control. As Sophocles notes, man is one of the worlds most incredible wonders, however no matter how wonderful man could be, he is still under control of a greater being. This supernatural figure, in Oedipus case, has taken command of his fate, and the more Oedipus attempted to escape his fate, the more he approached his fears unknowingly. These two quotes are profound in themselves, but as they are compared, more can be interpreted from their meanings.

The god dismissed my question without reply; he spoke of other things. Some were clear, full of wretchedness, dreadful, unbearable: As, that I should lie with my own mother, breed children from whom all men would turn their eyes; and that I should be my fathers murderer. This quote was taken just before Oedipus realizes his actual identity, and predetermined fate, which consequently becomes Oedipus punishment. He has just recognized that his actions have angered the Gods, as they knew he would, and that his worst nightmare has become a reality because he believed that he was supernatural himself, and able to conquer anything, as he had once conquered the Sphinx. Many have said that man should stand in the fear of god Acts 3:19, in order to either escape their taste for misfortune, or reap the benefits of a good life, but either way man has always attempted to run from the power of their fate, which as some believe is predetermined by the gods. This control by the Gods leads Oedipus into his frightening situation, and his attempts to escape the power just angers the spirits, increasing this vengeance, showing us that as the quote says Fortunate is the man who has never tasted God s vengeance.

Another strong implication given to us by these two quotes were that of the importance of man, and his own doings. Man is a natural wonder of this world in himself, putting mankind at the top of the food chain, and having capabilities to do nearly anything of his liking. However, this same ability to put himself above all others, and elevate his position, can also backfire and lead to his own ruin. When Creon said to Oedipus, Think no longer that you are in command here, but rather think how, when you were, you served your own destruction. his sole purpose was to put forth not only to Oedipus, but also to the reader of how a man can destroy himself by having that one fatal flaw that Oedipus once had. However, Sophocles also makes note of the strength of a man in the world, as in the plot where the only chance to liberate Thebes was to exile the one man who had killed Laios. This shows the reader that one sole man can injure the well-being of a city as large as Thebes, and also be as great as Oedipus had been thought to be.

These two quotes evidently show two different ideologies, yet still agree that certain restrictions, and circumstances lead to the same outcome that God rules Man, and everything concerning him. Sophocles is conceivably attempting to project this thought out to the reader by using the tragic story of Oedipus, and his hopeless attempt to escape the powers of the Gods. Oedipus believes that he is an example of a God on earth, or as the second quote implies, the worlds most wonderful wonder, yet he ironically finds out that by believing this thought he has angered the God s, provoking the vengeance that all mankind should fear. The story of Oedipus seems to tell the theme better then any other story could, showing both the power of man, and his superiors, and the consciousness of the shift of power. Either way, as I believe, there is a supernatural being that controls not only us, but our destiny, and the sole purpose in life should be to avoid his vengeance, and eventually gain the reward that living a life full of good intentions will produce.

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