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Posted on April 5th, 2012, by

I would like to start by saying that I do not agree with the claim that fate, not any flaw in character, is responsible for the tragedy that occurs in Oedipus the King. And now I am going to explain.

It should be said that Sophocles is the great Greek dramatist. In the history of the world literature Sophocles came as the creator of the tragic image of the wise King Oedipus, belonging to the family, over which the sins of ancestors hanging on the curse of the gods. The tragedy of “Oedipus the King” was presented at the third year of the Peloponnesian War, when plague was raging in the Athens.

In the centre of the story there is a man, identifying the theme of the tragedy – the theme of moral self-identity.

I think that in this drama the most important ideas regarding the nature and destiny of a man are expressed. And it is done so capaciously, simply and convincingly that it is available for the understanding even of an inexperienced reader.

This tragedy, like no other, puts the viewer in front of an insoluble, catastrophic dilemma. The best, most decent, most God-fearing hero becomes punished and criminal. Oedipus is a surprisingly honest man. No one but him insists on finding the truth – the same one that will eventually burn down his eyes.

But in the final of the tragedy Oedipus is convinced of his sin and does not blame anyone else, even the gods, who seemed to have played a trick on him.

Sophocles reveals to us the question of the universal scale: who determines the fate of a man – the gods, or he himself? In search of an answer to this eternal question the hero of the tragedy Oedipus left his native city, virtually dooming himself to a certain death. Gods foretold him to kill his father and marry his mother. He found as it seemed to him the right decision: to leave the family home. But, alas, Oedipus had not understood the most important thing: the gods determine only the general aspect of man’s destiny, its direction, one of the possible hypothetical versions of the future reality. Everything else depends only on the person, on his personality, on what is concealed in him.

The gods of Olympus have indicated Oedipus by their prophecy that he was able to kill his father and marry his mother, and that is why he had to be constantly on guard, not allowing to escape those truly terrible abilities, which were concluded in him. But he took everything literally and had not seen the truth that gods tried to open to him.

And only at the last moment, the moment of a spiritual enlightenment, he realizes how blind he was then, and as a sign of this he pokes out his eyes. Thus he expresses the main idea of the tragedy: gods do not decide a person’s fate, but the person does it himself. A person makes his himself by his thoughts and by his actions. Fate, inevitability is nothing compared to a man, understanding and awaring of his moral and spiritual essence. And at the end of the tragedy the chorus sings the lines that approve this statement:
Look ye, countrymen and Thebans, this is Oedipus the great,
He who knew the Sphinx’s riddle and was mightiest in our state.
Who of all our townsmen gazed not on his fame with envious eyes?
Now, in what a sea of troubles sunk and overwhelmed he lies!
Therefore wait to see life’s ending ere thou count one mortal blest;
Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest.
(Sophocles, Oedipus the King)

To make a conclusion I can say that not fate but the actions and flaws in character are most of all responsible for the tragedy of Oedipus.

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