Oedipus: How His Environment Inspired His Actions

Essay by shangrasserHigh School, 10th gradeA-, September 2013

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Shannon Grasser

Oedipus Rex

During Ancient Greek times, society revolved around social hierarchy. Kings were all powerful and peasants had little more than the clothes they wore. Those high up on the social spectrum received special privileges that the lower class was usually deprived of. Everyone respected the men and looked down upon the women, and there was constant prejudice towards the poor. People were also very superstitious, believing in fate and the tellings of prophets.

At this time, men were always considered superior to women, no matter their job or social status. Oedipus and Jocasta were the king and queen of Thebes, but the people of Thebes only cared about Oedipus. Not even Oedipus himself respected Jocasta, his mother and wife. When Jocasta attempted to keep Oedipus from finding out about his past, Oedipus completely ignored her pleas and dismissed her reasoning with a quick wave of his hand.

Oedipus said, "I will not be convinced I should not learn the whole truth of what these facts amount to," (page 33) as he argues with Jocasta. Oedipus hadn't treated Jocasta fairly during her lifetime, and only noticed her once she was dead.

Women were not the only ones mistreated in Ancient Greece. There was much prejudice toward the poor, as well. Servants were very low on the social spectrum at the time and were often overlooked by those above them. This situation created an interesting account of irony in Oedipus Rex. During Ancient Greek times, deities and god-like figures were worshipped by all and considered very powerful. The citizens of Thebes admired Tiresias, the blind prophet. When Tiresias explained to Oedipus the story of Laius' killer, Oedipus was appalled and instantly rejected his accusation. Later on though, when Oedipus was told again the same story...