Legitimation refers to people’s beliefs about political authority and the ability to defend these beliefs with justification. The three main sources of legitimacy are typically understood as acceptance of authority and the need to obey its commands. People have faith in political or social order because it has been there for a long time (tradition), have faith in the rulers (charisma), or trust its legality, specifically the rationality of the rule of law (rational) (Weber 1990 ; 1964). Whilst legitimacy is constantly evolving due to current perceptions of society; texts such as ‘Oedipus the King’ (Sophocles) and ‘The Apology’ (Plato) that date back to fifth century BCE explore the notion of traditional, charismatic, and rational legitimation in a comparative way.
Legitimacy may rest on the belief of tradition, upheld by leaders who at the time portray authority. ‘Oedipus the King’ conveys Oedipus following the path of the Delphic Oracle after learning that the land must be rid of corruption; as a result, of the fate of the previous leader of Thebes, Laius. Apollo commands “drive the corruption from the land…” (Sophocles, 2000, ll.109-110). “Murder sets the plague-storm on the city.” (Sophocles, 2000, ll.114-115). Whist the message of Apollo is passed on through the mouth of Creon, it is evident that Apollo holds the authority. Oedipus is quick to act to the message delivered, knowing Athenians rely on him to rid the city of the plague.
Socrates acts on traditional legitimation in the same manner as Oedipus. He approaches Apollo in search for answers and to gain truth. Apollo states Socrates is the wisest man (Plato, 1954, p.44). Socrates seeks to test the claim, and concludes the Delphic oracle is in fact correct; no man is wiser than himself.
In both texts it is evident that the characters highly regard their Gods with authority. Although Oedipus and Socrates are viewed as leaders in their own rights, both question Apollo in order to gain an answer; consequently, conveying that Apollo and the Delphic Oracle are traditional powers that determine the roles and outcomes of Athenians’.
While Oedipus and Socrates show that the enchanted divine order of tradition is present, both texts demonstrate that reason is an ever growing force (Symonds, 2014). Rationality is regarded as the faculty of the mind that draws logical inferences and apprehends truth and goodness, allowing the individual to reach a conclusion.
Reason in Oedipus adds to the drama of the play (Symonds, 2014). Oedipus discovers the horrific truth of his actions, doing so against rational plans (Symonds, 2014). While rationally, Oedipus left Corinth to escape his adoptive parents, or investigated into who murdered Laius. These rational actions led to the destruction of the self. Oedipus discovers that his biological parents abandoned him, and also becomes aware that he murdered his own father and held a philia relationship with his mother. “I stand revealed at last – cursed in my...