Oedipus Rex, Sophocles "Do the gods seem tyrannical, benevolent, just, cruel, indifferent? Is the play indifferent to the gods? Do you feel Sophocles believed in a cosmic order?"

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"Why should a man respect the Pythian hearth, or

Give heed to the birds that jangle above his head?

They prophesied that I should kill Polybos,

Kill my own father; but he is dead and buried,

And I am here-I never touched him, never,

Unless he died of grief for my departure,

And thus, in a sense, through me. No. Polybos

Has packed the oracles off with him underground.

They are empty words." -Oedipus, Oedipus Rex

These are words spoken by Oedipus about the falseness of Oracles before he learns the horror of his own deeds. Oedipus Rex is about a man who tries to escape his own fate.

The gods are no less victims of fate than mortals. The Fates could not be controlled by Zeus or any other god. They were some of the few beings over which the gods held no power. Apollo helped Oedipus to learn his fate. If Oedipus had not known, Thebes still would have been beset by plague and Oedipus would have continued to live in sin. It was better that Oedipus know his fate than to continue sleeping with his mother. This seems to me like the gods did not have much control over what happened to Oedipus. The gods aren't particularly moved by Oedipus's fate, but then many of them slept with their mothers.

Many know that Oedipus was left to die when he was little because a prophet had foretold that he would murder his father and marry his mother. Fewer know that, in some versions, Laius fell in love with and abducted Chrysippus, the son of Pelops. Pelops was outraged and cursed Laius, dooming him and his family line. This myth gives an explanation for the horrible fate of Oedipus and puts even less blame with the gods.

If Oedipus was fated to kill his father and marry his mother, then, according to the Greeks, he was going to do so. Nothing anyone said or did could stop it from happening. Sophocles believed the same thing. This play shows that Sophocles believed in fate rather than free will. The whole story is about how no one can escape their fate. Though Oedipus leaves

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