Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

Defining the Soul of Oedipus: Sophocles' Play Alongside Plato's Republic College

Translations of Sophocles’ play are generally interpreted in one of two ways, ‘Oedipus Rex’, meaning Oedipus the King, or ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’, meaning Oedipus the Tyrant. The exact distinction between the two titles is undefined, though through the lens of Socrates’ five characterizations of the soul, the readers can identify what type of man he is. Throughout the text, Oedipus exhibits elements of Socrates’ tripartite soul: the rational, the spirited, and the appetitive. Each person has a unique balance of these parts, and only by combining these with Socrates’ five characterizations of the soul is it possible to place Oedipus. The five characterizations are the aristocratic, the timocratic, the oligarchical, the democratic, and the tyrannical soul. Oedipus fulfills a share of each of these characterizations with his actions in Oedipus Tyrannus. Oedipus embodies all of these different types of character; and within them he resembles all three parts of Socrates tripartite soul. Socrates believed that one could have a gold soul of pure reason and willingness to learn, a silver soul, of courage, or an iron soul, one that hasn’t the purity or drive to complete true goodness. Oedipus is able to embody each characterization, proving...

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