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Oedipus Rex By Sophocles Essay

1171 words - 5 pages

Ancient Athens of the fifth century B.C saw evolutionary developments in philosophy, science and the dramatic arts of which provided citizens a very different perspective of life as it was. It was a patriarchal society which has been ruled by an Aristocratic system for hundreds of years that centred their ideals and beliefs not on individualism, but utterly the power of the gods. However in the Golden Age society’s devotion towards piety began to crumble as humanity started to examine the power of man’s achievements. This unorthodox movement was led by the Sophists .It was thus, the role of dominant Greek powers to re-establish the traditional pious values of society. As a conservative ...view middle of the document...

Particularly through Oedipus’ dialogue with Creon, dramatic irony is further used to support this idea: “I never saw him [Laius].” “And where might he [the killer] be? Where shall we hope to uncover//the faded traces of that far-distant crime?” Sophocles, with the intent that audiences are already familiar with this story before the play, prompts them, with the uncomfortable irony here, to recognise the errors Oedipus is making in the attempt to evade his fate. Oedipus, the tragic hero, serves as the central function to universally unite these conservative themes and ideas which Sophocles establishes through his character and actions. “Children, new blood of Cadmus’ ancient line// I have not thought it fit to rely on my messenger, But am here to learn for myself…” demonstrates Oedipus as a man of action and persistence who represented many of the ideals of Athenian leadership. It is Oedipus’ desire for the truth, (which was also part of his hubris ) a quality which was admired by contemporary audiences that leads to his destruction. The consequences of his hubris in the absolute confidence that he can overcome the power of divined fate present itself at the end of Act IV. Concurrently, it was the work of Oedipus’ hamartia which elicits the power of fate by the gods. To explicitly make audiences become aware of these two tragic conventions, Sophocles has revealed them in the peripitea and anagnorisis of the play respectively. As often seen in Greek tragedy, the fate of the tragic hero can be seen as a moral compass, where his faults are lessons to be learned from through conventional emotions of fear and pity as expressed in the cathartic moment of the play. The catharsis begins when Oedipus blinds himself “With golden brooches, which the King snatched out and thrust, from full arm’s length into his eyes.” This moment of emotional release is the climatic realisation of the power of divine fate.
The Sophists proposed the sacrilege idea that the power of human ingenuity and reason is almost sufficient to rival the gods’ omniscience. To end this blasphemy Sophocles re-justified the power and oppressive nature of the gods in this tragedy. The Chorus reflects the conservative thinking of conventional beliefs and practices and thus was a crucial device that helped to explicitly reinforce the correct attitude towards the gods. “…"deathless Athena! First, Daughter of Zeus// from the fire and pain of pestilence save us and make us sorrows beyond all telling, sickness rife in our ranks..” The parados solely demonstrates the power and...

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