Sophocles Plays

.. ate was not so kind to the rest of Oedipus’s descendants. Before he died Oedipus prophesized that his two sons, who abandoned him for a chance at the throne of Thebes, would kill each other in battle. They were made co-rulers of Thebes, but each wanted complete rule. Eteocles won over the people and was able to exile Polynices.

Polynices then went to Argos and raised an army to invade Thebes. As predicted by Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices met on the battlefield and killed each other. Creon was once again made king of Thebes. His first act as king was to give Eteocles a state funeral. He condemned Polynices as a traitor and would not allow his body to be buried. Antigone would not allow this to happen and defied Creon by burying her brother.

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Creon was astonished by Antigone’s defiance and ordered her to die. With Antigone’s death the legacy of Oedipus was complete. Not only was one life full of suffering, but those of his children were also. If not for fate, much of the despair in the lives of Oedipus and his children could have been averted. Oedipus and Laius were both far too stubborn for their own well being, that much is true, but it was fate that brought that bundle of pride together in the first place.

Fate is also responsible for Oedipus’s glory in death. It just so happens that he stopped to rest in the grove at Colonus. The Athenians and King Theseus ruled Colonus. The compassion of Theseus towards Oedipus allowed him to die with a bit of dignity. Fate can also be held responsible for the meeting of Eteocles and Polynices on the battlefield.

The odds of both of them surviving to combat each other in a huge battle could not have been to good. If fate had not played it’s hand, one of them probably would have died somewhere else on the battlefield. Antigone and Ismene seemed to be innocent victims of the fates of their father and brothers. Neither of them did anything wrong, yet neither of them had any happiness in their lives. When they were small children, their mother hung herself and Oedipus poked his eyes out. Antigone wasted her life leading her blind father around, sharing in his misery.

Ismene had to live with the fact that she was inbred and the gods cursed her family. Eventually Antigone’s life ended in despair to. She was separated from her fianc and died as a traitor to the state. Unfortunately, “Oedipus was undone by external things and was in no way responsible for his misery” (Gloud 57). Oedipus and his lineage were ill fated from the start and never really had much of a chance. Oedipus was a victim of fate, his future was foretold by an Oracle, he had no way of knowing his wife was his mother nor that the stranger he killed was his father. Oedipus could not prevent his own downfall.

Oedipus was the king of Thebes, he became king when he cured the city of a deadly plague. He cured the plague by solving the riddle of the mythical creature, the Sphinx. Now the city is suffering from another plague and as king Oedipus must solve the riddle of this one. When Oedipus was born he was taken to an Oracle; this was custom for the rich. The Oracle was to tell his fate.

The Oracle said that when Oedipus grows up he will marry his mother and he would also kill his father, “.. Why, Loxias declared that I should one day marry my own mother, And with my own hands shed my father’s blood. Wherefore Corinth I have kept away far, for long years; and prospered; none the less it is most sweet to see one’s parents’ face..”(p36 ln1-6). When his parents herd this they gave Oedipus to a man and he was to get rid of the baby by leaving it in the forest, but an servant of Polybus, the king of Corinth, finds the baby and brings him to the king. The king falls in love with the baby and takes him in as one of his own.

Oedipus left Corinth to avoid his foretold fate, he went to Thebes. On his journey he ran into a caravan at the crossroads before entering Thebes. This caravan was of the present King of Thebes, Laius, but Oedipus did not know that. The people on the caravan started insulting Oedipus. Oedipus lost his temper and in a rage he killed them all, except for one servant who escaped “..

I found myself upon the self-same spot where, you say, the king perished .. When in my travels I would come near this place where three roads meet, there met me a herald, and a man that rode in a colt-carriage .. And the old man himself, would thrust me, I, being enraged, strike him who jostled me– The driver– and the old man .. He paid though! duly I say not; but in brief, smitten by the staff in this right hand of mine .. out of the carriage straight he rolls down headlong; and I slay them all..”(pg29 ln13-27).

As it turns out the man he killed was his real father. There was no way that Oedipus could of known that this stranger was his father, he had never met or seen him ever before that one time. After Oedipus finished killing his father, he continued on his journey to the city of Thebes. When he arrived at Thebes there was a widespread plague in the city. In order to free the city of this plague one had to solve the riddle that came with it, the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus was clever enough to solve the riddle, which in turn cured the city of the plague.

The city, which was recently missing a king, made Oedipus the king since he saved them. In the imperial palace there was Jocasta, a recent widow of the missing and presumed dead King Laius. As it was accustomed, Oedipus married the widow Jocasta. The city was happy with their king for the next years; Jocasta and Oedipus had two daughters. Then another dark cloud came over Thebes, there was another plague infecting the city. An Oracle was contacted and the way to solve this riddle was to banish the killer of the former king Laius from the city. Oedipus in the process of solving the riddle Oedipus found out that Jocasta was in-fact is real mother “But she, perhaps ..

I have her for mother..”(pg39 ln1-5). When Jocasta finds this out he then kills her self, “The illustrious Jocasta is no more..”(pg44 ln18).

Sophocles Plays

Sophocle`s Plays According to ancient Greeks the state of human beings was always in constant tragedy. This is due to the continuous control that the Gods exerted on all human beings. The Gods determined their fate and if humans tried to change their destiny and thus their character they were punished. The Gods required justice and never let someone go unpunished. Sophocles wrote two plays that described these ideas.

The characters in these plays, Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon, and Antigone were bound to the Gods, and trapped between various moral obligations. A question that was deeply present in Greek conscience was that everyone needed to know their place in the universe as a human being. Oedipus was on a continual search throughout King Oedipus for his identity. The use of oracles in the play depict the importance of the Gods role in the Theban society. Greeks depended on them for guidance and answers to problems.

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Oedipus as the king of Thebes was morally obligated to his subjects to find the killer of Laius who is the source of the vile plague and promises that he will save the city just as he did when he solved the riddle of the Sphinx. After sending Creon to the oracle at Delphi and speaking to Teiresias he believes that they are both planning to dethrone Oedipus. In the interaction between Teiresias and Creon you can see Oedipus tragic flaw which is his pride. Oedipus taunts Teiresias when he says that he is the killer of the previous king. Oedipus refers to his track record and shows Teiresias if he was any good at prophesizing that he would have solved the riddle himself. He holds himself as this overconfident and superior being because he possesses an intelligence that surpasses everyone in Thebes.

He also accuses Creon of wanting to be king and using the prophet as his pawn. His pride also made him kill the king and all but one of his guards. This makes his pride a tragic flaw because it made him save the city, but allowed him to kill his father and guards with indifference. His pride led to his greatness and his downfall. Oedipus also angers the Gods.

At the oracle of Apollo he wanted to find if Polybus was really his father, but instead gets a horrific prediction that he will kill his father and marry his mother. He tries to use his free will to flee Corinth and his parents, but indeed he makes the prediction come true. Oedipus should have known that by trying to change his fate he irritates the Gods and is punished by finding the truth out in a cruel way and making his fate come true anyway. He also did not listen to Teiresias who he knows is the nearest mortal to Apollo. This would mean that he disregarded a message from Apollo and therefore has a disbelief in Gods.

You can see that his moral predicament was a search of Laius murderer which in fact led him to find his own origins by revealing an undeniable fact that he killed his father and married his mother. No one could escape their fate because it was predestined by the Gods. Jocasta can be seen as a disbeliever of the Gods and their oracles. The moral dilemma that Jocasta faced was to prevent a prophecy from coming true and to test Oedipus faith. Jocasta tried to avoid the prophecy from coming true by sending her son to be exposed on a mountain to be killed. By doing this and pinning her sons feet together she tried to defeat the Gods which highly angered them. Jocasta planted doubts after hearing that Oedipus and Creons argument was due to an oracle.

She says they are nonsense because she was given a prophecy that Laius would be killed by the son and marry his mother. She believed that Laius was killed by robbers and that the baby died on the mountain. Since this did not come true she believed that they were incorrect. Also when the messenger comes to tell of Polybus death, Jocasta again says that his propecy was also a lie. She is implying that since that oracles were wrong that the Gods were also false. Jocastas punishment can be seen as a test.

She was to test the beliefs of the child she had sent to die. By planting doubts of the Gods in Oedipus mind the gods can test his faith and his power. He failed the test and perpetuated a disbelief in the Gods. This depicts the way the Gods had a hand in everyones life. By disobeying them by avoidance of their dealings the punishment is to be forced to conspire against the people you love.

This can be seen in the character of Jocasta in King Oedipus. Antigone seems like a martyr who held her holy principles higher than the states principles. At times she assumes to be an anxious martyr who knows the consequences of her actions. In the end she dies because she believed what she was doing was indeed correct. Antigone knowingly breaks an edict sent forth by Creon. She holds that she will never have a new brother because she does not have her parents.

Her faith in family in unwavering. It did not matter to her that Polynices may have been a traitor to Thebes, but he was her flesh and blood. She also was more loyal to the Gods than to Creon. Creon was only a ruler and she believed that it was wrong to not perform the proper burial rites. The Gods regarded that every human being deserves the right to a proper burial.

She knows that Creon is a mere mortal who is breaking the laws of the Gods. Antigone can be seen as a holy woman who takes the Gods laws seriously. Antigones moral predicament concerned her obligation to her brother and thus the Gods for a proper burial and to the king of Thebes who was also her uncle. She had to decide between the consequence of death if she disobeyed Creons law or to her holy duty to bury her brother and follow the Gods laws. I believe that she did the right and courageous thing. Creons tragic flaw is his foolish pride.

He sends the edict out in the first place because he did not have the state that he ruled in mind, but because of the inner revenge against Polynices. He also is stubborn because he is unrelenting in his stubbornness. He believes that if he is persuaded by anyone that it means he is womanish. He sticks to his guns until it is too late to change anything which includes the deaths of his wife, son, and niece. He is in a moral predicament because he has an obligation to protect his state of Thebes which includes its democratic laws and its citizens.

He also is obligated to the Gods who ultimately rule over all beings and their divine laws. Creon fails to follow both of his obligations. Creon is shown as a self serving ruler who does not care about anything else except seeking revenge. And even when it is suggested to him that he should change his mind about Antigone and his edict by Haemon and Teiresias he remains obstinate and blind to his own actions. He adheres to the laws of the state rather than having irreverence to the laws of the Gods.

In a conversation with Teiresias he displays that he would not yield even if the eagles carry the body to Zeus he would remain unyielding in his principles. Haemon also advises his father to learn from others, but Creon feels that he should rule not for others but for himself. He forgets the power of the kingdom is to rule over people and is not to be caught in his own vengeful power struggle. And it is because of this his stubbornness that he experiences a turn of events that show that he really was wrong in what he did. His downfall was caused by his irrationality by defying the decree of the Gods that demanded a proper burial for all.

It was an violation to have an indecent burial. By Creons edict and will to have Polynices unburied and Antigone sentenced to death he has shown that he surpassed the Gods. This is very bad judgement because the Gods are punishing beings and ruled overall, but Creon only ruled his kingdom. Creon is ultimately punished for his pride and lack of respect for the Gods. It was after his conversation with Teiresias that he realizes he was blind to himself and that as a mortal he should have never defiled the Gods.

But it is too late because the Gods have cursed him by having all his close family members kill themselves.

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