Character Is Destiny

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"Character is Destiny” is a phrase associated with Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of the 6th century BC who is recognized as one of the most significant philosophers before Socrates and Plato. Unfortunately, very little is known about his life other than what can be gathered from his own statements. Heraclitus lived in Ephesus, an important city on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, not far from Miletus, the birthplace of philosophy. Ancient biographies of him consist of nothing more than inferences or imaginary constructions based on his sayings (Graham). However, the renowned philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, who drew upon the work of Heraclitus for inspiration, claims that Heraclitus believed “that a person's character is innate and determines his future character and his judgment, and thus that there cannot be any sort of impetus to change because one's fate is already decided.” (Peterson).

The theme of “Character is Destiny” can be readily observed throughout Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. The play deals with the role of human beings in shaping their own life. Man appears to be helpless in facing the circumstances that will determine his destiny. The myth of Oedipus is about escaping the fate one has been given by the gods and foretold by the oracles (Eloit). There are many examples all through the play of the role that destiny and fate play in one’s life. The first instance occurs when Oedipus sends Jocasta’s brother Creon to the temple of Apollo to learn how to rid the city of Thebes from the plague it is suffering from. Creon returns with the message that the plague will end when the murderer of Laius, the former king, is caught. Oedipus brings in the blind prophet Tiresias to help solve the mystery, but against his will, Tiresias reveals to Oedipus his fate. Tiresias tells Oedipus, “I say you are the murderer you hunt” (Sophocles 627). Oedipus refuses to believe him and accuses Tiresias and Creon of conspiring against him. Provoked by Oedipus’s

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