The following analysis will examine Oedipus the King, by Sophocles. The following questions will be addressed: What is the historical context of this period? Who was the author and what is his bias? What was the author’s intent in writing this and whom did he see as his audience? What are the storylines, as revealed in the document? What does the document reveal about the Greek notion of fate and free-will? And lastly, what stands out as particularly meaningful and why?
The historical context of the period reveals the Greek culture from the era around 429 B.
C. Fate is very important in this timespan to the Greek culture and the respect paid to Gods around them is the entire make up of Greek mythology. It is only logical that the play would be set to show the fate of the town of Thebes due to the gods being upset by the king at hand and his actions that were brought onto him by his prophecy as an infant up until the end of his life.
The author of Oedipus the King is Sophocles; he was known for being a dramatist. He was one of the 3 supreme dramatists. The other 2 who were Aeschylus and Euripides. This meaning “They were the only Greek tragedians to have some of their works preserved complete – to the benefit of later generations” His unbiased image is revealed when it is stated that “this acceptance of divine law and human limitations was not the private viewpoint of Sophocles alone.
The author’s intent is clear because he gives an overview of how fate cannot be altered by choices, if it’s meant to happen, it will. This is shown through Oedipus being shipped away as an infant and left to die to save the outcome of him killing his father and marrying his mother. Although this was the case, he survived and managed to return to kill his father and marry his mother without his knowledge or hers that they were related, as it was the destiny of his life.
It seems apparent that the intended audience would have been knowledgeable about what was going to happen in the life of Oedipus because it was all foretold at the beginning of the play and the audience had nothing left to do but was as the life of Oedipus unraveled into the misfortune of events he had awaiting.
The storyline of Oedipus the King is an insight into Greek Mythology. It is a play that shows Oedipus, a man who originally was cast away by his parents to die due to the life we were sought to have. Oedipus’s parents were told he would kill his father and marry his mother causing evil to the village of Thebes. Oedipus was not killed as an infant but instead given to another family outside the village who were unable to have children and were thankful for him.
He was told about his path in life and sought to never allow it to happen, not realizing that his parents who had raised him were not his biological parents at all, he left his village on a quest to do right. On this quest, he became a mythical Greek King and Hero for saving the village of Thebes from the Sphinx. The Sphinx was a mythical creature that trapped the people of Thebes by giving them a riddle they did not understand and devouring all those who failed to answer correctly. Oedipus answered this riddle correctly allowing the village of Thebes to be free again and they honored him by making him king.
This was the beginning of the terror on the city of Thebes as he had angered the Gods by living out his sins in killing his father and marrying his mother. The town and himself were unaware of why the terrible plagues were happening and how to stop them as they did not know the relation of Oedipus and his mother-wife. Upon seeking out who this individual was that killed the king prior to him and struck the misfortune of the village Oedipus starts to come to the realization that he is the one who did it. He finds out the truth of his birth and now knows he lived out his prophecy despite trying to despair it. He returns to the palace to find out his mother-wife has killed herself, tortures himself with the pins from her dress by blinding himself and submits his leadership to Creon while waiting to find out if he will be cast out of Thebes forever.
The notions of fate and free-will are revealed during the play when they are talking about Oedipus’s life. It is shown that Oedipus, the great king is brought down by fate and destiny of the gods however the main this in this play is the prophecy is of Oedipus. He tells Jocasta whom is his wife, the story he was told as a young man about himself, that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Jocasta then tells Oedipus the prophecy given to her son Laius who would grow up to kill his father just as Oedipus was told.
Oedipus’s only goal was to flee the fate he was given, but as fate does, it managed to continuously catch up with him. He believed he should not fear his fate “What should a man fear? It’s all chance, chance rules our lives.”
However, too many instances that are similar set Oedipus off in determination to discover the truth about his past. Jocasta is not as into the idea of him getting the answers as he is and asks him sincerely “Stop—in the name of God, if you love your own life, call off this search! My suffering is enough.” Oedipus responds by showing us how he is free-willed and determined to find his fate in life proving that he is so strong-willed that he will seek out the information without fear of the results he finds. He believes his fate will find him in one instance or another.
In conclusion, what stands out as meaningful is no matter how determined Oedipus was to deceive his prophecy, in the end, he did nothing more but accomplish what his life was meant to entail. It is quite ironic and grueling to read along with the dreadful outcome of Oedipus as his biggest goal was to ensure he was free of the horrible prophecy he was told. The guilt and shame will forever bear the weight on his shoulders. It shows you that no matter how hard you attempt to seclude something from your life, if it is meant to be, it will be and there is no way around it but rather than to deal with the consequences of your actions.