A Life of Misery

Essay by ndawg012University, Bachelor'sB+, September 2008

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Theater is one of the most beautiful and magnificent works of art a person can whiteness. Although theater plays a small role in the society we live in today, it was not so back in the fifth century B.C., when Athens was in its prime, a society ahead of its time. Back then, theater was exceptionally popular, drawing up to 17,000 spectators a showing. Theaters were built all over and were glorious works of art alone. Theater was more then what we would consider going to see a movie or a sporting event; it was both a religious and civic occasion. Greek plays were only shown twice a year at religious festivals. These plays had deep meaning to them and portrayed an important myth or legendary event. One of the greatest and most popular Greek plays written is “Oedipus the King”, written by Sophocles. Although he never won a prize for the play, it has proven to be influential in many ways.

Oedipus was born to the king and queen of Thebes, Laius and Jocasta. His parents were contacted by an oracle who told them that their son would kill Laius and marry his mother. Laius tied Oedipus’s feet together and gave it to a servant of the kind, the Sheppard, to kill. The Sheppard took pity on the child and gave him to another Sheppard to bring up on his own. This man gave the child to King Polybus and queen Merope of Corinth. Oedipus knows none of this and he thinks these two are his true parents. When a drunken man told him that they are not his parents, he went to Delphi to seek the truth. Apollo refused to reveal the answer to what he was seeking. However, he did tell him that it was his fate to make love with his own mother and shed his own father’s blood, he fled from Corinth. He ran towards a place where he would never see his parents again, so he couldn’t harm them. In his travels he came across a group of men who brutally forced him off the road. In anger he killed the man who pushed him off the road. When the older man hit him with two prongs, he killed him and the rest. As he came along in his journey he came to Thebes and solved the riddle of the Sphinx. His reward was the crown of Thebes and the hand of the widowed queen, Jocasta, in marriage. Little did he know that in those moments he fulfilled the prophecy, He killed his father King Laius, and married his mother, Queen Jocasta. In the end of this great drama, Oedipus realizes what he has done and he gouges his eyes out and banishes himself from the land as punishment. If I had the position as the judge at Oedipus’s modern day trial and the jury brought back a guilty verdict, my sentence would rule him mentally insane and strip him of all his power and make him nothing more then part of the royal family.

He was controlled by fate, and he did everything he could to avoid this fate. Oedipus is the kind of person who puts others before himself, this makes him very admirable. When he went to seek answersAnd so,unknown to mother and father I set out for Delphi,and the god Apollo spurned me, sent me awaydenied me the facts I came for,but first he flashed before my eyes a futuregreat with pain, terror, disaster- I can hear him cry,“You are fated to couple with your mother, you will bringa breed of children into the light no man can bear to see-you will kill your father, the one who gave you life!”I heard all that and I ran. I abandoned Corinth,from that day on I gauged its landfall onlyby the stars, running, always runningtowards some place where I would never seethe shame of those oracles come true.(868-880)He didn’t think of him self first; the first people he thought of were his parents. He essentially banished him self from seeing his beloved parents in fear of the harm he would do to them. Throughout this story you can see him demonstrate his noble trait, especially when he is king. He grieves for his people, and commits himself to find the murder, with the up most passion. This is a tragic story where an honorable man tried to deter from his fate, and failed in doing so, one must have sympathy on him.

Oedipus is mentally insane by the end of this play. He has gone through tremendous pain all his life, living with scars on his ankles, running from a fate he couldn’t change, and hurting the people he loved, which hurt him the most. For which he punished himself by gauging out his own eyes and banishing himself from the land, an awful and painful punishment, which cannot compare to death. He goes on living the rest of hid days blind to the world. When ask why he did such a thing, Oedipus responded;Oedipus: What can I ever see?What love, what call of heartcan touch my ears with joy? Nothing friendstake me away, far, far from Thebes,quickly, cast me away, my friends-this great murderous ruin, this man cursed to heaven,the man the deathless gods hate most of all!(1474-1480).

To do such a thing to ones self clearly shows mental insanity, which I believe he is incapable to live life by him self alone and banished, thus why I kept him part of the royal family. A burden on their behalf, but a king who did great for his kingdom, defeated the sphinx and served his people to his best ability. For this public service I make my sentence. His life alone is punishment enough, all this poor man has been through. A good man who fought the odds and lost, we should honor him.

Although he did do his best to change his fate, he still killed people, and for this I would have to strip him of all his power. Oedipus full admitted to a brutal killing,Now, Jocasta, I will tell you all.

Making my way towards this triple crossroadI began to see a herald, then a brace of coltsdrawing a wagon, and mounted on the bench… a man,just as you described him, coming face-to-face,and the one in the lead and the old man himselfwere about to thrust me off the road-brute force-and the one shouldering me aside, the driver,I strike him in anger!-and the old man, watching mecoming up along his wheels-he brings downhis prod, two prongs straight and my head!I paid him back with interest!Short work, by god- with one blow of the staffIn this right hand I knock him out of his high seat,Roll him out of the wagon, sprawling headlong-I killed them all-every mother’s son! (883-898)A full confession, a man of no title striking out in anger, frustrated and confused with his life. No doubt in an unstable state after being devastated by Apollo. One can only imagine the suffering he had been going through. There is no excuse for the crimes he committed, he was found guilty in a court of law. For these crimes I strip him of all powers of king and any influence over the kingdom. I sentence him to live out the rest of his life with his family, who are to care for him and make the rest of this poor mans life as best as possible. He has been cursed by the gods, his fate as followed through. He is no harm to the public now, a good man wronged by the gods, let him live out the rest of his days in peace.

I can see no other reasonable sentence for this cursed man. To exile him would mean agony, shame, and death. I can not sentence a man pure at heart to his death because of fate. A man, who ruled his home land with the up most respect, considered the people his children and took pity on them when they were sick. It is time now that his children give back the same pity now that he is sick. His life it self is sentence enough, a true hero to Thebes. Honor him, give him your graces, and pay your respect for a man who truly loved his people, the very people who loved him back. Oedipus is a man who will never be forgotten. Let his lesson be learned, no matter how powerful you are; you can not escape your fate.

sourcescitation“Oedipus the King”, written by Sophocles