Free Will or Fate
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Sophocles wrote a trilogy of Oedipus – “Antigone,” “Oedipus the King,” “Oedipus in Delphes” – that went down in the world history and became the vivid samples of Ancient Greek works of art. What are the most common opinions about this hero? Oedipus is a child of sin. He was so unlucky, so miserable, and so unfortunate. Oedipus himself is prone to foibles such as fear of the future, instability etc. Even though Oedipus tried to use free will in creation of his fate, the latter was predetermined beforehand and he could not escape from it.
Evidence of such predetermination is first observed when the prophet predicted that he would kill his own father and marry his mother; he got frightened of that waited for him. Instead of asking his parents whether he was really their child, he left home and, by the words of Tiresias, was “living in disgrace” and had “no idea how bad things are.” (Sophocles 2012, 440).
Furthermore, it can be stated prediction is a core of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. It is a collision between individual free will of a hero and scorns of fate. The given piece of literature opens with Creon’s returning home with bad news from the Delphic Oracle, “Laius was killed. And now the god is clear: / those murderers, he tells us, must be punished, / whoever they may be” (Sophocles 2012, para 120). The message was that harmful plague would spread throughout Thebes because of a murderer of its former ruler Laius. It is a very controversial issue to argue about if Oedipus can be accused of acting wrongly or like a fool when he had nothing to do but to obey his fate and carry out the prediction when he seems to have no choice about fulfilling the prophecy.
The author depicts Oedipus’ regular but unsuccessful attempts to change his destiny through his free will in the following. For example, being a child, he was sent from his native town and, by a lucky chance, was saved and raised by a Corinth prince. It happens that he appears again in Thebes where he had been born. He comes across an unfair play of life or just impressive coincidence. A band of robbers attacks him and defending himself “Oedipus unknowingly kills his father Laius and marries his mother Jocasta” (Sophocles 1999, para 5) – this demonstrates another inability to escape his destiny. He becomes a King that aspires for avoiding his fate and the prophecies that promise nothing good to him, nevertheless, the fate continually comes up with him. Oedipus using own free will wants to be a good ruler claiming:
Whoever among you knows the man it was
who murdered Laius, son of Labdacus,
I order him to reveal it all to me . . .
If someone knows the killer is a stranger,
from some other state, let him not stay mute. (Sophocles 2012, para 260-270).
Nonetheless, when his fate catches him in the predicting words of Tiresias, “you yourself are the very man you’re looking for” (Sophocles 2012, para 430), the King of Thebes tries to cover his harmful actions with his will again calling the prophets statement “disgraceful lie” (Sophocles 2012, 430). This proves the fate’s predetermination once more.
Many researchers supposed Oedipus has flows that led him to destruction, his personal catastrophe. However, there is hardly one who can determine that flow accurately. Probably, Sophocles’ story serves to show that misfortune and troubles are present in the life of every human being. There is no such a thing as a fate in its full sense: some fate, some fortune, little people’s perception of the world, their own fears and prejudices form the destiny. Persons are not responsible for their deeds completely. Humble obedience leads to prosperity.