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Oedipus 2 Essay, Research Paper

Oedipus Essay (Fate) Sophocles Oedipus the King is a tragic play which discusses the tragic discovery of Oedipus that he has killed his father and married his mother. The story of Oedipus was well known to the athenian s. Oedipus is the embodiement of the perfect Athenian. He is self-confident, intelligent, and strong willed. Ironically these are the very traits which bring about his tragic discovery. Oedipus gained the rule of Thebes by answering the riddle of Sphinx. Sophocles used the riddle of the sphinx as a metaphor for the 3 phases of Oedipus life and to futher characterized him as a tragic man. The Sphinx posed the following riddle to all who came to obtain the rule of thebes: What is it that walks on 4 feet and 2 feet and 3 feet and has only one voice, when it walks on most feet it is the weakest? Oedipus correctly answered Man and became the king of Thebes. This riddle is a metaphor for the life of Oedipus. As a child man crawls on his hands and knees this is the four feet to which the Sphinx refers. Also man is at his weakest as a small child. He depends solely on others for his nourishment and well being. Oedipus was the child of Jocasta and King Laius who was taken to the mountain by a shepard to be killed so the omen of the god apollo that Laius son would kill him and lay with Jocasta would not come true. Oedipus was the weakest of his life at this point. If it has not been for the shepard spairing his life and giving him to Polybus to raise as his own Oedipus would have died. Man walks on 2 feet when he has matured. This is a metaphor for Oedipus when he reaches adulthood and leaves Corinth to escape the oracle. Oedipus meets up with a band of travelers and in a rage kills them. Inadvertently Oedipus has killed his own father. Oedipus then answers the riddle of the sphinx and becomes king of Thebes. By becoming king of Thebes he marries Jocasta the Queen of thebes and his own mother. Many years later after bearing children with Jocasta a plague kills many of the inhabitants of Thebes. Oedipus is told by the gods to find the killer of Laius. He is very dilligent in the inquiriy and finally comes to the horrible truth that he himself is the murderer. Jocasta kills herself at the horrible realization that she has layed with her son and Oedipus puts out his eyes at finally seeing the truth. This fulfills the final part of the Sphinx s riddle for Oedipus will have to walk with a cane for the rest of his life because of his blindness, this will give him the 3 feet which man walks with at the end of his years. Oedipus used his intellect and diligence to answer the riddle of the Sphinx. Many of the most intelligent young men of thebes has been killed attempting to answer the riddle but Oedipus proved his intelligence superior to theirs. Oedipus uses the same intelligence and perseverence to find the killer of Laius. He does not give up his search even when Jocasta warns him to stop and let the matter rest. He calls the shepard and interrogates him till he discovers the horrifying truth that he is the killer. Oedipus intelligence was ultimately his flaw. Also, if Oedipus had not had been as coarageous he would have have never ventured to answer the riddle of the Sphinx. Thus even though he had killed his father he would have never become king of Thebes and laid with his mother. In addition, if Oedipus had had the courage but not the intelligence the Spinx would have killed him for answering the riddle incorrectly. Sophocles used this to characterized Oedipus as a tragic man for he came about his tragic discovery not because of an evil act or an evil trait but because of the person he was. Oedipus traits which gave him riches and power ultimately led to his tragic ending. Also, the god apollo did not predestine that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother by the oracle, he only stated what he knew was inevitable because of who Oedipus was. The sphinx s riddle was used by Sophocles to characterize Oedipus as a tragic man and as a parallel to his life. The riddle describes the 3 stages which Oedipus went through in his life. Also in answering the riddle Oedipus inevitable brought about his own tragic ending by a horrible discovery. . Oedipus does not unselfishly seek out the truth even though he knows it will be painful for him, rather, he has no idea what the outcome of his search will be, denies the truth at every turn, and threatens those who speak it. Many people may paint Oedipus as a great man, pointing out that he pursues the truth at whatever personal cost and has the strength to accept and endure it when found. They admire that Oedipus was willing to bring himself down in his lust to find his true identity. However, the driving force of Oedipus fact-finding mission is an attempt to end the disease that plagues his city. He doesn t realize the personal consequences his hunt will have for him, and his loyalty to the truth is based on his ignorance of it. In fact, if we examine his “quest for identity”, it becomes apparent that the sequence of events are quite coincidental. First, he summons Tiresias to name the killer, who Oedipus does not at the time believe to be himself. Secon! The tragic hero Oedipus emerges as anything but a social person. He may begin that way, motivated by a genuine desire to help the people, but what emerges throughout is different. It becomes plain to see that Oedipus is actually, deep down where it really counts, far more concerned with his own sense of self and demands for justice on his terms, than in compromising his desires like any other true leader would. This tragedy reminds us that even the bravest, those known throughout the world for their knowledge, are doomed if they set themselves up against the mystery of life itself, and if they try to force life to answer them, they are going to self-destruct.

Oedipus Rex – Bliss in Ignorance

Oedipus Rex – Bliss in Ignorance

One of the most memorable and meaningful Socratic quotes

applies well when in context of Sophocles’ Theban Trilogy. “The

unexamined life is not worth living,” proclaims Socrates. He could

have meant many things by this statement, and in relation to the play,

the meaning is found to be even more complex. Indeed, the situation

of Oedipus, king of Thebes, the truth of this statement is in

question. Would Oedipus have been better off if he was blind to the

knowledge of his birthing and the fate which was foretold to someday

befall him? Truly though, his life would have been a far better and

easier path had he never known about his true origins. His life in

Corinth would have been long and prosperous, and Thebes would have

lived on under King Laius. In fact, everyone would have been better

off in the long run if Oedipus had not ventured out beyond the walls

of Corinth. So is it worth living an examined life?

Socrates had made this statement long after the creation of

the Theban Trilogy. In the context of his own time, this was meant to

imply that life must be examined and reflected upon, known and

discovered by each individual philosopher to better enrich life for

all. Yet in terms of Sophoclean drama, specifically Oedipus Rex, this

was meant in a vastly different way. The unexamined life was one that

was in the dark, unknown as to what fate lied beyond every turn and

irony of living. Oedipus, up to the point in which he heard the

comment in the tavern in Corinth, lived an unexamined life. To

Socrates, he was an unfulfilled man, one who deserved to know more,

one who not complete. However, in a much less metaphysical sense,

Oedipus’ life was complete, in that he had all that he needed, and was

living a happy and fruitful life. As the drama progresses, he finds

out more and more, learning exactly what the implications of his birth

was, he suffers the fate for examining his life. So what Socrates

had meant, that the life which was not rich with self exploration and

reflection was not worth living, was indeed different than its

application in terms of Oedipus, who’s life was unexamined, yet

complete.

The question arises, what would life have been like, if

Oedipus had not discovered his true origins? If he had stayed in

Corinth, would this have ever happened? We find that indeed, we would

have had no story, if not for that lone comment of a drunkard which

sparked the fire of rebellion in the young prince Oedipus. He

ventured out to Delphi, to pry knowledge of his background out of it,

and to discover if this was indeed the truth, despite the fact that

his adopted parents of Corinth had assured him of it falseness.

Oedipus leaves Corinth, fulfilling the Socratic idea of the unexamined

life. However, we must evaluate the eventual consequences of his

actions and the implications which they possess. What becomes of his

fateful journey out of Corinth leads to the downfall of an entire city

and family line. If he had not murdered King Laius, the Sphinx would

have never descended upon Thebes, he would have never fulfilled the

prophecy, and all would have lived on in a relative peace and

tranquillity.

Once examining these aspects of the relationship between the

quote and Oedipus Rex, we can come to a final examination of its

implications. The question which was addressed, that of the value of

the examined life, can be answered. Indeed, if Oedipus had not

ventured beyond the protective walls of his adopted home, would

anything such as what occurred in the play ever have transpired? If

Oedipus had not pursued that answers to the mysteries that plagued

him, despite the pleading warnings of I casta, in fact his life would

have been contented and happy. Instead, he follows the Socratic

method of exploration and discovery, and proceeds down the path of

pain and distraught. Was, after it was over, all worth it? We find

that no, it was not. Being content and suited with what he knew of

himself would have saved Oedipus and his children/siblings much agony.

However, in the typical Greek tragedy, we must see his fall from

grace through, which is indeed what happens.

In the bliss of ignorance, much pain and difficulty is

averted. For what worries does the ignorant man have? In the case of

Oedipus, ignorance would have suited him fine. The Socratic quote

“the unexamined life is not worth living” certainly doesn’t hold true

in the case of Oedipus Rex. While it may hold importance and a

substantial meaning for our own lives, in the case of Oedipus Rex, he

would have been better off without it. Indeed, for while the

unexamined life is poor in a metaphysical sense, Oedipus would have

truly been fine without it. For the unexamined life is a simple one,

and he would have lived a long and happy life, never discovering the

true nature of his birth, nor even caring.

Oedipus Rex

Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” is a tragic play which discusses

the tragic discovery of Oedipus that he has killed his father and

married his mother. The story of Oedipus was well known to the

athenian’s. Oedipus is the embodiement of the perfect Athenian. He is

self-confident, intelligent, and strong willed. Ironically these are

the very traits which bring about his tragic discovery. Oedipus gained

the rule of Thebes by answering the riddle of Sphinx. Sophocles used

the riddle of the sphinx as a metaphor for the 3 phases of Oedipus’

life and to futher characterized him as a tragic man.

The Sphinx posed the following riddle to all who came to obtain

the rule of thebes: “What is it that walks on 4 feet and 2 feet

and 3 feet and has only one voice, when it walks on most feet it is

the weakest?” Oedipus correctly answered “Man” and became the king of

Thebes. This riddle is a metaphor for the life of Oedipus. As a child

man crawls on his hands and knees this is the four feet to which the

Sphinx refers. Also man is at his weakest as a small child. He depends

solely on others for his nourishment and well being. Oedipus was the

child of Jocasta and King Laius who was taken to the mountain by a

shepard to be killed so the omen of the god apollo that Laius’ son

would kill him and lay with Jocasta would not come true. Oedipus was

the weakest of his life at this point. If it has not been for the

shepard spairing his life and giving him to Polybus to raise as his

own Oedipus would have died.

Man walks on 2 feet when he has matured. This is a metaphor for

Oedipus when he reaches adulthood and leaves Corinth to escape the

oracle. Oedipus meets up with a band of travelers and in a rage kills

them. Inadvertently Oedipus has killed his own father. Oedipus then

answers the riddle of the sphinx and becomes king of Thebes. By

becoming king of Thebes he marries Jocasta the Queen of thebes and his

own mother. Many years later after bearing children with Jocasta a

plague kills many of the inhabitants of Thebes. Oedipus is told by the

gods to find the killer of Laius. He is very dilligent in the inquiriy

and finally comes to the horrible truth that he himself is the

murderer. Jocasta kills herself at the horrible realization that she

has layed with her son and Oedipus puts out his eyes at finally seeing

the truth. This fulfills the final part of the Sphinx’s riddle for

Oedipus will have to walk with a cane for the rest of his life because

of his blindness, this will give him the 3 feet which man walks with

at the end of his years.

Oedipus used his intellect and diligence to answer the riddle of

the Sphinx. Many of the most intelligent young men of thebes has been

killed attempting to answer the riddle but Oedipus proved his

intelligence superior to theirs. Oedipus uses the same intelligence

and perseverence to find the killer of Laius. He does not give up his

search even when Jocasta warns him to stop and let the matter rest. He

calls the shepard and interrogates him till he discovers the

horrifying truth that he is the killer. Oedipus’ intelligence was

ultimately his flaw. Also, if Oedipus had not had been as coarageous

he would have have never ventured to answer the riddle of the Sphinx.

Thus even though he had killed his father he would have never become

king of Thebes and laid with his mother. In addition, if Oedipus had

had the courage but not the intelligence the Spinx would have killed

him for answering the riddle incorrectly. Sophocles used this to

characterized Oedipus as a tragic man for he came about his tragic

discovery not because of an evil act or an evil trait but because of

the person he was. Oedipus traits which gave him riches and power

ultimately led to his tragic ending. Also, the god apollo did not

predestine that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother by

the oracle, he only stated what he knew was inevitable because of who

Oedipus was.

The sphinx’s riddle was used by Sophocles to characterize Oedipus

as a tragic man and as a parallel to his life. The riddle describes

the 3 stages which Oedipus went through in his life. Also in answering

the riddle Oedipus inevitable brought about his own tragic ending by a

horrible discovery.

31a


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