English II PAP, Per. 2
17 October 2014
The Limits of Free Will
Do people have free will and control of their futures or is their fate left in “Apollo’s self-sufficient hands” (Sophocles 376)? According to Greek Theory, one’s future is determined by the gods and is unalterable. While most believe otherwise, this theory serves as the foundation for Sophocles’ famous tragedy, Oedipus Rex. Through Oedipus, Sophocles creates the perfect example of a Greek tragic hero, as fate becomes his fatal flaw and leaves him with limited free will. Oedipus’ fate, decided for him by the gods, leads him to murder his father and marry his mother.
Before he was born, Oedipus’ fate was decided for him by the gods through the oracles and could not be changed. In this time, an oracle was a divine communication or revelation given by a priest at the shrine. Among the Greeks, oracles were “ubiquitous and taken quite seriously,” (Mulroy xxxii) and this was no different for Oedipus when Apollo’s servants declared, “whatever child was born to him and me [Jocasta] would cause Laius’s death,” (Sophocles 713). Knowing the unfortunate fate Oedipus inherited, Laius and Jocasta attempted to disprove the gods by attempting to kill Oedipus. “Laius yoked his feet and had a man abandon on the pathless hills to die” (719). At this point in the play, Laius and Jocasta were no longer in fear of these oracles coming true, as they believed Oedipus was dead. After being abandoned by his true parents, Oedipus is taken in by Polybus and his wife of Corinth, and believed them to be his true parents. Oedipus knew he was “doomed to share” his mothers bed, therefore, he “treated Corinth as a distant colony” (994-998). Oedipus was not blinded by his fate; in fact, he was fully aware of the oracles and made conscious decisions to save himself and family from destruction. Through both Oedipus’ and his parents’ actions to prevent the oracle from becoming a...
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