The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that the events in Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, are the result of the hero’s free will existing within the fate, a terrifying destiny predicted for him by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
Both fate and free will played a very crucial part in Oedipus' downfall. It is important to understand that although he was a victim of fate to some extent, he was never completely controlled by it.
In order to better understand the relationship between man’s free will and cosmic order (or fate) we need to take a close look at the myth. According to Apollodorus, in the ancient world, fate and destiny held a crucial role in the lives of human beings. The greek word for fate “anake” (necessity), epitomises the fatalistic belief that the universe and everything in it is governed by unforseeable forces.
These forces personify in the form of three goddesses, the Moirai. “Clotho” who spins the thread of life, “Lachesis” who determines the lenght of a life, and “Atropos” who cuts the the thread of life. Although the fates appear to be pre-written, men are allowed to exercise a certain influence upon them.
In The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche puts the Moirai above all knowledge and in control of the destiny of all mankind. The three goddesses were not only respected and revered by the Greek, but they were especially dreaded. Especially in Oedipus the King, Sophocles portrays fate to be a real and tangible entity.
To prove that Oedipus’ attempt to escape fate ultimately leads to his downfall I will now examine some excrept from the play.
First and foremost he runs from Corinth of his own accord: "When I heard this, and in the days that followed I would measure from the stars the whereabouts of Corinth-yes, I fled to somewhere where I should not see fulfilled the infamies told in that dreadful oracle".
Having deciphered the riddle of the Sphinx, Oedipus free will is tested again: he now has a choice to become king and to wed the queen, or to move on. He is not forced into marrying his mother yet once again, Oedipus' choice puts him one step closer to fulfilling his destiny.
He could have waited for the plague to end, but out of compassion for the people of Thebes, he sent Creon to Delphi.
Every single step and decision that Oedipus takes in Thebes, he does so of his own will. The King is in search for the truth, and since he refuses to listen to Tiresias, he shows some sense of free will. "I say you are the murderer of the king whose murderer you...