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Hubris In Oedipus The King

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Hubris In Oedipus The King
Hubris, and the Melding of Two Meanings Hubris represents the extreme pride and arrogance of a character that often leads to his or her downfall. This foolish pride or confidence describes both the attitude and the often-violent behavior of many characters in classical mythology. Despite the individual nature of this trait, hubris often creates lasting consequences for any group in which the offender takes part, as a result of the wrongful action. In many cases, hubris represents the overconfidence of these individuals in their accomplishments and capabilities, especially when mortal characters go so far as to compare themselves with the gods, which indicates a loss of touch with reality. As Aristotle wrote in Rhetoric, “Hubris consists in …show more content…
Sophocles wrote Oedipus the King in the 5th century BCE, in contrast with the work of the Roman Ovid. The character of King Oedipus demonstrates his attitude of overconfidence from the beginning, as he speaks to the children outside his palace and introduces himself as, “I, Oedipus whom all men call the Great” (Oedipus the King 73). As a result of this hubris, he tries to defy the prophecies given by the gods, but he goes on to follow the prophecy as it was laid out and do exactly what he was most afraid of doing (Oedipus the King 83). The Oracle of Delphi gives him the prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother, but his overconfidence convinces him that he can overcome this; instead of taking the advice of the prophet Teiresias, he attacks Teiresias in anger over the prophecy (Oedipus the King 80-81, 86). He embarks on an adventure towards Thebes from Corinth, and on his way, he kills an old man and marries the queen of Thebes (Oedipus the King 105), completely unaware that in doing so, he is fulfilling the prophecy. Throughout the story, his pride shines through both his actions and his attitude, as he attempts to prove that he knows more and is more powerful than the prophet, stating, “it has no strength for you because you are blind in mind and ears as well as in your eyes…You life is one long night so that you cannot hurt me or any …show more content…
The conflicts that are created as a result are evidenced both through the original definition of hubris and the more recently developed definition. First, the original meaning relates to aggressive or violent behavior, as shown in the stories of both the Greek Icarus and the Roman King Oedipus; second, the later meaning couples pride with humility, as shown through the myths of the Greek Narcissus and Niobe, in addition to the Roman King Oedipus. Over time, these two definitions develop separately and come to work hand in hand to describe the full extent of hubris in ancient mythology. Regardless of whether the actions lead directly to the downfall, or the gods lend a hand in punishing overconfidence, the hamartia of hubris presents a consistent warning to the audience of the fatal effects of

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