King Oedipus: Most Tragic Story Ever Written

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"Know Thyself" is sage advice. "All Things in Moderation" is also a wise saying. King Oedipus, subject of the most tragic story ever written, brought about his own downfall because of his excessive obsession to know himself. And, try as he might, the more he tried to escape his tragic Fate, the closer it got... Thus, some say that the moral of the story is, Even if you try to thwart your destiny, you won't succeed. The concept of predestination plays a large role here. For example, if the gods know what will happen, and events are pre-ordained, how can people make free choices or have any semblance of free will? If the gods put challenges in our way that we fail to rise to, are we responsible for the consequences? Would knowing the future, as Oedipus does, cause us to act or behave any differently? The ancient scribe Sophocles wrote "Oedipus the King" (between 441-427 B.C.E.) for the annual festival where playwrights competed for prizes. These festivals were major civic occasions, with attendance expected of all noted writers. In his play Sophocles goes out of his way to present Oedipus as an extremely capable, beloved ruler. It should be noted that Sophocles never suggests that Oedipus has brought his destiny on himself by any "ungodly pride" (hubris) or "tragic flaw" (hamartia), common themes in Greek tragedies. Sophocles also makes a special effort to explain that Oedipus killed King Laius in self-defense, and a major theme in the tragic play is whether one can believe in oracles and seers. The title of the play, from which is derived the story, is often given in its Latin translation ("Oedipus Rex"), rather than in its original Greek ("Oedipus Tyranneus"), since the Greek term for king is the English "tyrant", which means a monarch who rules without the consent of the people. THE TRAGEDY BEGINS

Laius and his wife Jocasta (or Iocasta) were King and Queen of Thebes, a prosperous and famous city state in ancient Greece. King Laius, as many people did those...
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