Oedipus: Fate vs. Free Will

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Oedipus: Fate vs. Free Will

In Oedipus the King, one of Sophocles' most popular plays, Sophocles clearly depicts the Greek's popular belief that fate will control a man's life despite of man's free will. Man was free to choose and was ultimately held responsible for his own actions. Throughout Oedipus the King, the concept of fate and free will plays an integral part in Oedipus' destruction. Destined to marry his mother and murder his father, Oedipus was partly guided by fate. This prophecy, as warned by the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, was absolute and would inevitably come to pass. As for free will, Oedipus' actions, temper, impulsive nature and pride (hubris) as well as his erroneous judgment (hamartia) all contributed to his eventual downfall. At the beginning of the tragedy, Oedipus was made aware of his destiny. Immediately after receiving the news, Oedipus fled Corinth and headed for Thebes thinking he could escape his fate. Unknowingly, Oedipus had just begun to walk the path that led to his downfall. Shortly after, he killed his father Laius and later married his mother Jocasta. These actions proved that his life was predetermined by fate and that he was unable to change it. Years later, Oedipus is informed of the plague that has struck Thebes, and is asked to help in the matter. Oedipus could have waited for the plague to end, but feeling pity for his suffering people, he sent Creon to Delphi where he was to plead before Apollo to relieve the curse that had fallen on their land. Instead of investigating the murder of former King Lauis, Oedipus took matters into his own hands and cursed Lauis' murderer. Not knowing he was the murderer, Oedipus had now cursed himself. "Whoever he is, a lone man unknown in his crime or one among many, let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step – I curse myself as well… if by any chance he proves to be an intimate of our house, here at my hearth, with my full knowledge, may the curse I just...
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