Oedipus Rex: a Tragic Hero

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  • Topic: Sophocles, Tragic hero, Oedipus
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  • Published : September 30, 2012
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Oedipus the King: A Tragic Hero
Sophocles’, Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. Oedipus Rex is the story of a King of Thebes upon whom a hereditary curse is placed and who therefore has to suffer the tragic consequences of fate. By elevating the importance of fate, Sophocles suggests that characters cannot be fully responsible for their actions. While free choices, such as Oedipus’s decision to pursue knowledge of his identity, are significant, fate is responsible for Oedipus’s life. In the play, Oedipus is the tragic hero. Even though fate victimizes Oedipus, he is a tragic figure since his own heroic qualities, and his blindness to the truth that ruins him.

Overall, Oedipus’ fate was that he was to kill his father and marry his mother. To avoid this curse given to him when he was born his mother and father, Jocasta and King Laius, took him to the Corinthian mountains where they left him bound at the ankles in hopes that he would die. Little did they know, a shepherd found Oedipus and brought him back to the city of Corinth. He was then adopted by the King and Queen, Polybius and Merope. Decades later the shepherd told Oedipus of his fate and in order to avoid his fate Oedipus ran away from Corinth trying to avoid it. On his journey he ended up killing a man and ending up in the city of Thebes. There he solved the riddle of the Sphinx and became the new ruler of Thebes because the previous King, Laius, was mysteriously murdered. At this time Oedipus does not know that the man he murdered was actually King Laius, his father. He too ended up marrying Jocasta given that he was the new king fulfilling his prophecy.

Aristotle cites Oedipus as the best example of Greek tragedy. According to Aristotle, Oedipus is a tragic hero because he is not perfect, but has tragic flaws. Aristotle points out that Oedipus' tragic flaw is excessive pride and self-righteousness. “I Oedipus, whom all men call the Great,” was said by Oedipus just with in...
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