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The Role of Fate in Greek Mythology and Its Influence on American Society

By awilliams2623atgmaildotcom Feb 24, 2014 639 Words
The Role of Fate in Greek Mythology and Its Influence on American Society Fate is the development of events beyond a person’s control, believed to be influenced by a higher or supernatural power. Fate can also be thought of as a predetermined future, in which incidents that happen are inevitable or unavoidable. The concept of falling prey to happenings beyond one’s control is prevalent throughout Greek mythology. Although this theme is widespread throughout Greek mythology, the concept of fate can also be seen in great works of tragic literature such as Oedipus Rex and Romeo and Juliet. Ideas about fate extend into the present and play an important role in American society and how many individuals believe that a higher power has a predetermined plan for our lives. Ideas about fate in contemporary society can be traced back throughout history; these ideas began with and were influenced solely by the presentation of fate in Greek mythology.

Fate has always played a role in Greek mythology in works such as The Iliad, Hesiod’s Theogony, and Oedipus the King. In The Iliad, fate propels most of the events that occur. Once fate has been set no one can alter it; however, it is unknown how one’s fate comes to be destined (Raphals 537). This problem is solved in Hesiod’s Theogony. In this literary work three goddesses, known as the Moirai, who represent a power that both men and gods must conform to, embody fate. In Oedipus the King, trying to avoid the events presented by the oracle is the sole cause for Oedipus fulfilling the prophecy and succumbing to his fate. These are just a few examples where fate is a main theme Greek mythology. Because of the influence of Greek mythology, the prevalence of fate in literature can be seen in other works as well.

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular works in the world, and one of the main themes of the play is fate. The beginning of the play foreshadows that all the events to follow are controlled by fate. The Chorus states that the two lovers are star-crossed and even the characters in the play constantly see signs that their future is pre-determined. The events that occur are not simply coincidences, but demonstrations of fate that help bring about the inevitable outcome of both lovers dying. There is no doubt that Shakespeare read Greek mythology and incorporated the ideas about fate into his own work. As a result, fate is discussed even now in literature classes around the world and many individuals who read the play believe that is was Romeo and Juliet’s fate to die. The prevalence of fate began with Greek mythology and was perpetuated by great works of literature. These ideas were then taken by the public and interpreted into society and our view about life.

The common saying everything happens for a reason stems from the fact that events that occur ultimately lead to whatever fate a higher power has predetermined for us. Many individuals believe that although we have free will, our free will is following a path that already has been set. This idea didn’t begin recently, but thousands of years ago with Greek mythology. At first, fate was something that authors such as Homer didn’t provide a reason as to how or who was determining our fate. Hesiod solved this problem by assigning control of an individual’s fate to a group of people and this was the dominant idea throughout Greek mythology. Likewise in American society, most people believe that fate is controlled by a higher power(s), and this idea can be attributed mostly to Greek mythology. Works Cited

Raphals, Lisa. “Fate, Fortune, Chance, and Luck in Chinese and Greek: A Comparative Semantic History.” Philosophy East & West 53.1 (2003): 537-560.

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