?Free Will And Its Effect On The Greeks, Christians, And Romans? Essay, Research Paper
“Free Will and its effect on the Greeks, Christians, and Romans”
Free will is defined as: Voluntary choice or decision; freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention (Webster’s Online Collegiate Dictionary). Free will had an effect on the Greeks, Christians, and the Romans. Three stories, Oedipus the King, the Bible, and the Aenied, respectively, that we have studied and that fall in each society are examples of how free will is altered by different societies and how it effects their lives.
Oedipus the King was written by a Greek, Sophocles. During this time, the Greeks believed that everything was done for the gods, they did not have free will over their lives. There are many examples in the play in which the gods are controlling and tell the people what they should do or how they should live their lives. At the end of the play Oedipus asks Creon to banish him from Thebes:
Oedipus: Drive me out of Thebes, in exile.
Creon: Not I. Only the gods can give you that.
Oedipus: Surely the gods hate me so much-
Creon: You’ll get your wish at once…(Oedipus 639 lines 1168-71).
Creon and Oedipus discuss here how they have no control over their lives, decisions and all. The gods are the ones who make all of the choices. Oedipus, along with the rest of the Greeks, believed that he had no say in the way his life was going to turn out. He believed that it was destined for his life to end the way it did, with him being cursed and banished from Thebes.
The Bible is the word of God for the Christians. There are many examples of free will throughout the Bible. Christians believe that God gave us free will to do as we please, but whatever we do should be for the glorification of God. One very important example of free will that effected all Christians is in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve have been told by God to not eat the fruit off of the tree in the garden:
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, nethier shall ye touch it, lest ye die…when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat…God asked, Hast though eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat (Genesis 53 book 3)?
God told Adam and Eve what to do, but he allowed them to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences of the choice that they made. They had free will to do as the wished and had an understanding God to watch over them and let them learn from their mistakes.
The Aeneid was written by the Roman, Virgil. During this time, the Roman’s believed that they did not have free will, the gods told them what to do with their lives. Aeneas believed that his mission, to found a city that would be the Roman state, was imposed upon him by the gods.
The god’s interpreter…has brought
Commands down through the racing winds!…
With my very ears
I drank his message in!…
I sail for Italy not of my own free will (The Aeneid 857 lines 468-75).
The gods told Aeneas that he should found a city. He did not necessarily feel that he was forced, he just knew that what the gods told him to do was right. But, like the Greeks, the Romans did not have free will to do as they pleased. They were simply told what to do by the gods, not destined or fated like the Greeks.
Although the degree of free will was different in each society, the Greeks, Christians, and Romans were all effected in one way or another. Whether it was the gods controlling their lives or God watching over their lives, free will had a very strong imprint on how each society lived their life.
Genesis. The Bible. The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces. Ed. Lawall. & Mack.
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999. 51-72.
Merriam Webster’s Online Collegiate Dictionary. 2000. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate
Dictionary. 8 October 2000. www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces. Ed.
Lawall. & Mack. New Tork: W.W. Norton & Co.,1999. 596-640.
Virgil. The Aenied. The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces. Ed. Lawall. & Mack.
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999. 814-895.