Divine Right of Kings in Oedipus and Modern Society

Topics: George W. Bush, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iraq War Pages: 4 (1430 words) Published: December 1, 2005
When the president talks to God
Do they drink beer and go play golf
While they pick which countries to invade
Which Muslim souls still can be saved?
I guess God just calls a spade a spade
When the president talks to God. (Oberst)

The concept of the divine right of kings has been impacting history in both literature and politics throughout the ages. Today, this concept is reemerging in contemporary American politics through the presidency of George W. Bush. The divine right of kings can be defined as the right to rule derived directly from God, rather than through the consent of the people. Many historians concede that the concept of the divine right of kings first appeared in the Greek drama Oedipus Tyrannous. As Oedipus Tyrannous opens, a Corinthian priest refers to Oedipus as a nearly "divine" ruler. The priest proclaims, "I and these children; not as deeming thee/ A new divinity, but the first of men;/ First in the common accidents of life, / And first in visitations of the Gods" (Sophocles 2). The priest goes on to request Oedipus' help when he says, "And now, O Oedipus, our peerless king, / All we thy votaries beseech thee, find/ Some succor, whether by a voice from heaven/ Whispered, or haply known by human wit" (4). The priest believes that, as a king hand-picked by the gods, Oedipus will receive advice and answers from the Greek divinities in order to solve Corinth's problems. The origin of the divine right of kings can be more clearly understood after exploring Thomas Hobbes' classic book Leviathan. In this book, Hobbes describes the need for a social contract in order to achieve a peaceful society. He defines this social contract as an unwritten pledge where a person promises to respect others, refrain from unnecessarily attacking, and live peacefully within a community. The person agrees to this pledge under the condition that all members of society give one and other the same treatment (Hobbes). Hobbes describes his ideal society as...

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Sophocles. Oedipus the King. New York: Pocket Library, 1959.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Harmondsworth, Eng. : Penguin, 1985.
Scheer, Robert. "War as an Excuse for Everything." The Los Angeles Times 10 Feb. 2004.
Bright Eyes. "When the President Talks to God." Conor Oberst. When the President Talks to God- Single. Saddle Creek Records, 2005.
Abercrombie, Neil. CQ 's Politics in America 2004. The 108th Congress. Washington: CQ Press. 2004
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