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Essay/Term paper: Oedipus: the mysteries of fate

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Oedipus

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Oedipus: The Mysteries of Fate

Robert Choi

Among the first thing a historian discovers in his study of early
civilization are records of people's belief, or faith, in powers greater than
themselves, and their desire to understand what causes these powers to act.
People everywhere wonder about the marvelous things in the sky and on the earth.
What makes the rain? How do the plants and animals live and grow and die? Why
are some people lucky and others unlucky? Some believe in free will while
others believe in fate or destiny. In the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles,
Oedipus was a true victim of fate.
Gods and goddesses were believed to be responsible for the wonders of
science, and the vagaries of human nature; therefore, according to the facts of
this story, Oedipus was a true victim of fate for several reasons. Laius and
Jocasta, the childless king and queen of Thebes, were told by the god Apollo
that their son would kill his father and marry his mother (page 56). A son was
born to them, and they tried to make sure that the prophecy would not come true.
They drove a metal pin through the infants ankles and gave it to a shepherd,
with instructions to leave it to die. The shepherd pitied the little infant so
he gave the child to another shepherd. This shepherd gave the baby to a
childless king and queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope. This royal couple
named the boy Oedipus, which in its Greek form Oidipous means "swollen foot."
Oedipus was brought up believing that Polybus and Merope were his real parents,
and Lauis and Jocasta believed that their child was dead and the prophecy of
Apollo was false. Many years later, he was told by a drunk man at a banquet that
he was not a true heir of Polybus (page 55). He then went to the oracle of
Apollo, to ask the god who his real parents were. All he was told was that he
would kill his father and marry his mother (page 56). He resolved never to
return to Corinth, to Polybus and Merope, and started out to make a new life for
himself elsewhere. He came to a place where three main roads met, and in the
narrow place was ordered off the road and then attacked by the driver of a
chariot in which an old man was riding. A fight started, and Oedipus, in self-
defense, killed the old man and his attendants. The old man in the chariot was
Lauis, king of Thebes, and the father of Oedipus. Although Oedipus had not
known it, he had killed his father and the first half of the prophecy of Apollo
was fulfilled. Oedipus continued on his way and arrived at Thebes. He solved a
riddle which saved the city from the sphinx. He became the king of Thebes, and
then married a lady by the name of Jocasta. The prophecy of Apollo was now
completely fulfilled. Oedipus having no knowledge of Apollo's prophecy being
true, cursed the individual who killed Laius to be banished from Thebes forever.
After putting two and two together, it was he, Oedipus, who had killed Laius,
his own father. He did not go back on his word, and like a man, he dethroned
himself as king, and banished himself from Thebes. Once again, he was destined
to be dethroned and banished.

Comparing my life with Oedipus', I've discovered a great deal about free
choice and destiny. I learned that one day, you can be the richest person alive,
yet be the poorest person the next day and vice versa. In life, anything can
happen, whether it is expected or unexpected. That is when fate overrides and
overpowers free will. Free will is a choice that an individual decides to do or
accomplish. Destiny or fate is what just happens. No one knows when or how
something will happen, but it will. Laius and Jocasta heard that their child
will kill the father and marry the mother. Even after abandoning the baby and
believing that he was dead, the prophecy was destined and somehow came true.
With me getting caught for shoplifting was also destined. The voices I heard in
my head was a warning, and I chose to ignore it but it was destined to happen.
The day our lives end, we don't choose where we will go, we, I believe, are
destined to be sent where we belong.

In the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Oedipus was a true victim of
fate. Like Oedipus, there was a time in my life when I too, felt like a victim
of fate. The Greeks had an orderly explanation of the creation of the world.
From this Greek tragedy, I learned more about their manners, customs and ideals.
I've grown to appreciate their love of beauty, their joy and laughter, as well
as the sorrows they experienced in life. I also realized how great of power
destiny and fate have over free will. The moral of this play I learned is that
if it's destined, it will sooner or later happen!


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