Sophocles’ Plays
The classical Greek writers have given the world major literary themes. One such
theme is "Fate". According to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the

American Language the word fate is defined as "the principal or determining
cause or will by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are
or events to happen as they do: destiny"(529). The Theme "Fate" is
applicable to Oedipus and his lineage, in Sophecles’s three Theban plays:

Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus. "Fate" plays a cruel role in the
lives of everyone related to Oedipus. Not only was Oedipus\'s life condemned from
the beginning, but the lives of his four children were also ill fated. The
entire bloodline, beginning with Oedipus, met a tragic end or led a tragic life
through no fault of their own. Thomas Gould explains, "sometimes it is
suggested that Oedipus would not have avoided his misery by having been a better
man, but he could have remained prosperous and happy if he had been a less good
man" (Gould 51). If not for "Fate", the lives of Oedipus and his entire
family could have been much better off. The whole debacle started with the birth
of Oedipus. Oedipus was the only child of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of

Thebes. They took Oedipus to the oracle at Delphi to have his prophecy read. The
oracle prophesized that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother,
"... Why, Loxias declared that I should one day marry my own mother, And
with my own hands shed my father\'s blood. Wherefore Corinth I have kept away
far, for long years; and prospered; none the less it is most sweet to see one\'s
parents\' face..."(ll. 556-559, 187). In order to prevent this from
happening, Laius and Jocasta pierced Oedipus\'s foot and ordered a shepherd to
abandon him on a mountainside. The shepherd pitied the child and gave him to a
herdsman from Corinth. The herdsman then gave the child to Polybus and Merope,
the childless king and queen of Corinth. They adopted him and raised him as
their own. Oedipus grew up thinking he was the prince of Corinth. He heard
rumors that he was not the natural son of Polybus and Merope, and he went to
consult the oracle of Delphi to find the truth. The oracle repeated the same
prophecy that was told to Laius and Jocasta. Thinking that Polybus and Merope
were his parents, "Oedipus moves away when he is told his fate" (Jones 41).

"Fate" then stepped in and Oedipus met an old man accompanied by several
servants at a crossroads. The old man was Laius, on his way to Delphi. Since
both men were proud, they refused to step aside so the other could pass. Oedipus
lost his temper and in a rage he killed them all, except for one servant who
escaped, ... I found myself upon the self-same spot where, you say, the king
perished ... When in my travels I was come near this place where three roads
meet, there met me a herald, and a man that rode in a colt-carriage ... And the
old man himself, would thrust me, I, being enraged, strike him who jostled me--

The driver-- and the old man ... He paid though! duly I am not; but in brief,
smitten by the staff in this right hand of mine ... out of the carriage straight
he rolls down headlong; and I slay them all...(ll. 1104- 1112, 217). When

Oedipus kills his father, Laius, "it is not out of hatred of his parents" (Vernant

110). Oedipus has no idea who the "stranger" is. All Oedipus realizes is
that he has his life in danger. Fate is what has Oedipus murder his father. Not
realizing that he had fulfilled half of his terrible prophecy, Oedipus continued
on his way to Thebes. When he arrived at Thebes there was a widespread plague in
the city. In order to free the city of this plague one had to solve the riddle
that came with it, the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus was clever enough to solve
the riddle, which in turn cured the city of the plague. After answering the

Sphinx\'s riddle and ridding Thebes of the monster, Oedipus was considered a
hero. When the people learned of Laius\' death, believed to be the fault of
bandits, they made Oedipus their new king. In the imperial palace there was

Jocasta, a recent widow of the missing King Laius. As it was accustomed, Oedipus
married the widow Jocasta. The city was happy with