Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

Abandonment of Mythos for Logos in Oedipus Rex College

The Greek rationalists’ search for the meaning of life through rational thought instead of the traditional legends marked the first radical shift from mythos to logos. While there was no clean break with either traditional religion or belief in the supernatural, Greek thought as a whole during the 7th- through 5th-centuries increasingly trended towards a trust in logos and the individual as means towards the ultimate end. Within Oedipus the King, Sophocles reacts against the rationalists’ abandonment of mythos. Oedipus seeks to fulfill his duty as king by using logos to search for the cause of the plague, yet the reactions and warnings of the characters around him serve as a caution against this complete insistence on logos. The element of tragedy within the story works to show that the tradition of mythos is in this case the wiser choice because the deities and Fates provide clear boundaries for human knowledge and behavior. Oedipus, on the other hand, shows that without a comparable regulator, logos will push on even to the point of self-ruin. The guidance provided by Tiresias and Jocasta uses mythos to demonstrate that the knowledge brought by the pursuit of logos is not always beneficial.

Tiresias, the blind prophet of...

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