Freedom Essay, Research Paper
An Introspective Look on Fate and Initiation Concerning the Tragedies of Ancient Greece
Is man free to mold his own destiny, or is he a mere thread on the spool of life the Fates, the three female deities of Greek Mythology, cut and control? Can, in fact, man determine his life and destiny based on his own free will through successful initiation or is he subject to the web of fate that is woven for him? The force, which controls the path of man, whether from fate or through successful transcending initiation, has been a long survived question that yet remains unanswered, but nevertheless, consists of many explanations. Through comprehensive analyses of the tragedies of ancient Greece of Oedipus the King, Antigone, and Medea, the protagonist consistently fails initiation and, as a result, forces fate to take control.
Plato and Aristotle ultimately believed that a positive world could not all be completely ruled by fate, and, in turn, both philosophers argued progressive life for individuals has to be undertaken through initiatory experiences. Therefore, in such transcending realm, man could not be held responsible for his actions mainly because not all men can achieve successful libations and transformations and thus initiation. The predominant idea of infallibility of fate, but rather praise of the success of plain initiation was supported by their fellow contemporary Greek philosophers and can be reversibly seen in the tragedies of ancient Greece such as Oedipus the King, Antigone, and Medea. In sum, the three unique plays demonstrate life as a beneficiary of initiation in which failed initiation through the characters flaws leads to the character s unfortunate fate and thus his downfall.
Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, intriguingly explains the theme of demise of the self through failed initiation and thus demonstrates the power of the predicted fate. In summary, Sophocles describes a famine, disease, and poverty-stricken Thebes because of a great error made by Oedipus through his failed initiation. As a result of his failed initiation due to his character flaws, as well as, irrational and bad judgment, Oedipus follows his inevitable fate of the prediction of the oracle in which he would kill his father and marry his mother. For instance, Upon meeting the King of Thebes at the crossing of three roads, Oedipus s arrogance and temper results in the death of Oedipus’s father, the King of Thebes. Furthermore, with his ignorance and irrationality, Oedipus is blinded by his ego and, as a result marries Jocasta, his mother, while passing through the City of Thebes. Last, because of Oedipus s lack of patience and blindness, two very major flaws of a hero, he is unable to listen to the words spoken by Tiresias, the blind prophet, and is ultimately condemned to his own prophetic and fateful demise all because of his failed initiation. In all, Oedipus is a damaged individual who fails initiatory progress at various levels and as a result lives his unfortunate fate. If he had noticed the flaws around him, his fate would have been fallible.
An additional tragedy written by Sophocles, Antigone, expresses the similar idea to the thesis that failed initiation through character flaws brings forth once fate. In general, Creon, Antigone’s uncle, rebels against the gods and refuses to bury Polyneices because of his excessive pride, or hubris. He wants to support those who defend Thebes and, in return, disregard those who are against his city. However, this unwillingness to bury Polyneices obeys Creon’s law rather than the law of the gods, a fatal and destructive error on Creon’s behalf. Demonstrating the flaws of excessive pride and ignorance, Creon fails his initiation and his unfortunate fate sets in. As Tiresias, the blind prophet, tells Creon of the great error he has made, it becomes evident once again that the horrendous effects of failed initiation whether through excessive ego or pride, leads to unfortunate fate and thus the self-destruction of the protagonist. Creon, like Oedipus, is unable to learn from the words spoken of the prophet, due to his pride and overbearing ego, which in turn, results in the death of Creon’s son as Tiresias had stated from before, A corpse for a corpse the price, and flesh for flesh- one of your own begotten. Even though Creon later sees enlightenment, a bleak sign of liberation, it is already too late. Only his exile, a symbolism of destruction and failure, remains simply because of his failed initiation.
Medea, written by Euripides, is the last major Greek Tragedy that represents the power man has over his life but turns for the worse due to failed initiation. Jason, the husband of Medea, determines his fate and downfall specifically because of his faults. Jason s greediness leads to his power hungry mind where he wants too much prestige and domination, as he is the heir to King Creon, and future king of Greece. Once again, flaws become a major destructive source for the protagonist as Jason leaves his wife for King Creon of Cornith’s daughter, disregarding all that Medea has done for him. As a result, Medea horrendously murders their two sons for she does not want them to be in the environment of such inhumane actions, and later, murders Jason s new wife. As a result, Jason is left all alone simply because of failed initiation of his ego and pride, as well as, over excessive arrogance and overly self-confident nature. Here too, Jason s untimely fate kicks in all because of his failed initiation.
In conclusion, throughout the history of human thought, man has struggled with the question of whether man is a meaningless pawn on a chessboard controlled by universal forces, or does he have power over his own fate based on his successful initiation of the self? Both, Plato and Aristotle, acknowledged the existence in the universe of certain laws of the gods that must be obeyed, yet they were not willing to give all of the power of one’s fate to these universal forces. They strongly believed man has to have free will since, otherwise, man would be left with no responsibility of his own actions to enjoy successful liberation or even downfalls. The followers of Plato and Aristotle inevitably included the philosophers’ ideas in their writings. First, in Oedipus the King, Oedipus fails initiatory progress by being irrational, arrogant, and, above all, impetuous thus causing his predicted fate to take control. Second, in Antigone, Creon s hubris and ego causes him to experience negative initiation and, as a result, once again, his fate overpowers him. Last, in Medea, Jason s greediness leads to his own unfortunate and fateful demise because of his failed initiation. In sum, the infamous Greek tragedies of Oedipus, in Oedipus the King, Creon, in Antigone, and Jason, in Medea, demonstrate how fate is a product of character flaws that deprive successful liberation, transformation and initiation of the self. Otherwise, man is in fact free to cut his own destiny.