Fate: Crafted by Man or a Higher Power?

Topics: Oedipus, Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus Pages: 3 (957 words) Published: November 21, 2009
The Fate of Men
There are many themes in the Sophocles’ tragedies; among them is whether fate is crafted by man or a higher power. In other words “Does mankind have the power to shape their own destiny or is their fate already decided for them?” In the Oedipus Cycle, we can see that men have limited control over their destiny. Their fate is already decided by a higher power and cannot be avoided. No matter what path you choose or how you react, your destiny will be fulfilled one way or another. The first clear example of how fate cannot be changed or escaped would be the prophecies that surrounded Oedipus. While trying to figure out who killed the previous king Laius, Oedipus calls in Tiresias, a blind prophet. Tiresias tells Oedipus that he killed Laius and also questions him about his true parents. Oedipus denies all of this but later on makes the connection while talking with Jocasta, his wife. During this scene we find out that the oracle at Delphi told Laius that he will be killed by his son. The oracle also tells Oedipus that he would murder his father and sleep with his mother. Oedipus realizes the truth about his past and is overwhelmed. The oracle and the prophet were right all along and Oedipus was not able to escape this fate. This clearly shows that no matter what Oedipus did he could not escape from murdering his father or sleeping with his mother. In the scene where Tiresias and Oedipus are discussing who the murderer is, they exchange a couple of lines that show Oedipus cannot change his fate. Oedipus questions the prophet and his skills, frustrated Tiresias tell Oedipus “Well, it will….thy pent-up rage” (Sophocles, 341-347), these lines show us that Tiresias knows that regardless of what Oedipus does or believes in, his fate will be played out just as the gods intended. Another vivid example of humans trying to change their fate would be in Antigone. Antigone defies Cenon’s order for giving Polynices a proper burial she is punished....

Bibliography: 1.) Sophocles, Robert Fitzgerald, and Dudley Fitts. Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. Orlando, Florida: Harvest Books, 2002.
2.) Mason, herbert. Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative. 1st edition. U.S.A: Mariner Books, 2003. Print.
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