Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

A problem with fate.

I'm doing a high school certificate for a state in australia. there are 7 exams which start in 28 days from today.

For Oedipus.. sometimes i get questions such as.. "to what extent is oedipus resonsible for his fate?" ..

The following explains what confuses me about this play.

Oedipus has virtues and flaws... Some of which are an obsession with his dignity (eg. shown in verbally attacking the blind prophet tieresias, and physically attacking others) and also a relentless yearning to always uncover the truth.

If his characteristics can be seen as part of the whole fate idea, then his fatal flaws (and other flaws) are irrelevant as they are apart of his fate and can't be seen as contributing to it!

If his characteristics are seen as purely his fault or as a result of his upbringing and not apart of his pre-defined fate, then yes, they can be seen as contributing to his fate, but everything which is foretold by Tieresias actually happens.. right down to being a blind begger.. no more, no less.. so if his fate is already been cast in iron, then what difference do his characteristics make? is hubris irrelevant?

now.. what tieresias is predicting in the play.... which the audience know.. is that Oedipus will stab his eyes out.. Is Tieresias' prophecy actually contributing to that? A true fatalist would probably say no.. that whether you know about your fate or not will not change the inevitable. I can accept that viewpoint.

If the prophecy says - Oedipus, you will wind up a blind, wandering beggar.. then whether he fulfils that as a result of his characteristics, (that is, persuing the truth, finding out the truth, and then punishing himself for it) or whether he does that by tripping over and falling on two strategically placed, sharp sticks, still fulfils the prophecy... but, the latter does not involve his characteristics.

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Last updated by jim w #26793
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Basically, we, as humans, either believe in fate or in free will. The ancient Greeks believed primarily in fate, and so Oedipus was "doomed" to live out the life preordained for him. In fact, his great "sin" was trying to defy that fate by running away from Corinth, and, ironically, it was that act that actually fulfilled his "destiny" in Thebes.

The vast majority of "moderns" (at least we Western moderns) believe that we have free will, that we actually make choices which alter our lives. We are not just "living out" some prescripted life drawn for us.