Oedipus Deserved His Fate Essay, Research Paper
(note: this paper was presented in a debate, hence the referance to “the negative side”) Today the negative side will try to declare that it was Sophocles’ intention that we regard Oedipus as a good man. But if he was good, why do we never see him in the act of being good? He accuses Tiresias and Creon, two formerly blameless men, of conspiring to dethrone him and take over the country. Would a good man do this, lacking any evidence but his own suspicions? Would a good man wish his own brother-in-law dead when no one could even testify to his guilt? Threaten a shepherd with pain and death merely because the shepherd wouldn’t talk?
Oedipus certainly deserved his fate.
The title of the play in Latin is Oedipus Rex which translated means Oedipus the King but the Greek title is Oedipus Tyrannos which means Oedipus the Tyrant. It is obvious that Sophocles regarded Oedipus as a tyrant, and one who deserved his fate.
If Oedipus was not responsible for his actions, and did not deserve his fate then he could not be viewed as a tragic figure since he would be a mere puppet of fate or of the gods. Surely the negative team are not going to argue against the fact that Oedipus was a tragic figure?
Oedipus showed great disrespect for the Gods. The people of Thebes blame the pestilence destroying their city upon the gods; so, too, do they credit Oedipus’s foresight and counsel as being of godly origin. Oedipus himself ignores this popular conception of his power. He responds to this call for godly aid with a story of his own personal attempts to unravel the problem, never once even reffering to immortals. He tells the people, “my spirit groans/for city and myself and you at once”, therefore signifying that he has taken the problems of Thebes upon himself to solve, showing contempt for the usefulness of the gods.
Another reason for Oedipus’s tragic downfall is his own hubris. He tried to relieve the pains of others by making bold statements and promises, even without looking at the consequences of doing so. It is these statements at the end that causes Oedipus to gouge his eyes and part the city, because his shame is too great. Oedipus clearly involves himself in an area which he has no right to be in. His downfall was truly what he deserved.