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According to ancient Greeks the state of human beings was always in constant
tragedy. This is due to the continuous control that the Gods exerted on all
human beings. The Gods determined their fate and if humans tried to change their
destiny and thus their character they were punished. The Gods required justice
and never let someone go unpunished. Sophocles wrote two plays that described
these ideas. The characters in these plays, Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon, and
Antigone were bound to the Gods, and trapped between various moral obligations.
A question that was deeply present in Greek conscience was that everyone needed
to know their place in the universe as a human being. Oedipus was on a continual
search throughout King Oedipus for his identity. The use of oracles in the play
depict the importance of the Gods role in the Theban society. Greeks depended on
them for guidance and answers to problems. Oedipus as the king of Thebes was
morally obligated to his subjects to find the killer of Laius who is the source
of the vile plague and promises that he will save the city just as he did when
he solved the riddle of the Sphinx. After sending Creon to the oracle at Delphi
and speaking to Teiresias he believes that they are both planning to dethrone
Oedipus. In the interaction between Teiresias and Creon you can see Oedipus’
tragic flaw which is his pride. Oedipus taunts Teiresias when he says that he is
the killer of the previous king. Oedipus refers to his track record and shows
Teiresias if he was any good at prophesizing that he would have solved the
riddle himself. He holds himself as this overconfident and superior being
because he possesses an intelligence that surpasses everyone in Thebes. He also
accuses Creon of wanting to be king and using the prophet as his pawn. His pride
also made him kill the king and all but one of his guards. This makes his pride
a tragic flaw because it made him save the city, but allowed him to kill his
father and guards with indifference. His pride led to his greatness and his
downfall. Oedipus also angers the Gods. At the oracle of Apollo he wanted to
find if Polybus was really his father, but instead gets a horrific prediction
that he will kill his father and marry his mother. He tries to use his free will
to flee Corinth and his parents, but indeed he makes the prediction come true.
Oedipus should have known that by trying to change his fate he irritates the
Gods and is punished by finding the truth out in a cruel way and making his fate
come true anyway. He also did not listen to Teiresias who he knows is the
nearest mortal to Apollo. This would mean that he disregarded a message from
Apollo and therefore has a disbelief in Gods. You can see that his moral
predicament was a search of Laius’ murderer which in fact led him to find his
own origins by revealing an undeniable fact that he killed his father and
married his mother. No one could escape their fate because it was predestined by
the Gods. Jocasta can be seen as a disbeliever of the Gods and their oracles.
The moral dilemma that Jocasta faced was to prevent a prophecy from coming true
and to test Oedipus’ faith. Jocasta tried to avoid the prophecy from coming
true by sending her son to be exposed on a mountain to be killed. By doing this
and pinning her son’s feet together she tried to defeat the Gods which highly
angered them. Jocasta planted doubts after hearing that Oedipus and Creon’s
argument was due to an oracle. She says they are nonsense because she was given
a prophecy that Laius would be killed by the son and marry his mother. She
believed that Laius was killed by robbers and that the baby died on the
mountain. Since this did not come true she believed that they were incorrect.
Also when the messenger comes to tell of Polybus’ death, Jocasta again says
that his propecy was also a lie. She is implying that since that oracles were
wrong that the Gods were also false. Jocasta’s punishment can be seen as a
test. She was to test the beliefs of the child she had sent to die. By planting
doubts of the Gods in Oedipus’ mind the gods can test his faith and his power.
He failed the test and perpetuated a disbelief in the Gods. This depicts the way
the Gods had
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Mythological kings, Creon, Oedipus, Antigone, Sophocles, Jocasta, Polynices, Tiresias, Haemon, Laius, Polybus of Corinth, Hamartia
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