English - Oedipus Rex

I have to find evidence to support which character I think it the most guilty for what happens to Oedipus. I was just wondering if anyone knows whether or not Sophocles is trying to point the finger at someone other than Oedipus, who I think is the most guilty. My reasons are that he ran away from his parents, knowing that they might not be his real parents, he didn't dig deep enough to try to find his real parents, his rashness and temper caused him to kill the king's group just because he "jostled" him. Also, if anyone has any other ideas about why he would be guilty, let me know. Or if you have a different opinion, tell me about it :)

asked by Karen
  1. I have to find evidence to support which character I think it the most guilty for what happens to Oedipus. I was just wondering if anyone knows whether or not Sophocles is trying to point the finger at someone other than Oedipus, who I think is the most guilty.
    Are you convinced that Sophocles meant for ANY individual to be considered guilty? The ancient Greek societies were more into beliefs (and stories) that humans often made bad choices, often without knowing it. Be sure you are not superimposing our 21st century need to blame on ancient Greek thinking.

    My reasons are that he ran away from his parents, knowing that they might not be his real parents, he didn't dig deep enough to try to find his real parents,
    Be sure to read the first article linked below -- read it completely. If he had asked Polybus and Merope, what could they have told him?

    his rashness and temper caused him to kill the king's group just because he "jostled" him.
    It was more than just "jostled"!! Read both articles linked below.

    Also, if anyone has any other ideas about why he would be guilty, let me know. Or if you have a different opinion, tell me about it

    http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Ni-Pa/Oedipus.html

    http://www.oedipusmax.com/myth.htm

    Be sure to post what you finally decide if you'd like feedback from someone here.

    posted by Writeacher
  2. One could say that Merope and Polybus erred by not revealing that Oedipus was their adopted son - had they told him so, he would not have left home to avoid harming them. Jocasta could have been guilty in a sense, since she married so quickly after losing her husband - had she honored Laius by an appropriate time of mourning, he might have married someone else. One could also blame the gods - after all, they did know what was going to happen. They might have delayed Laius' departure or told Oedipus to come back the next day to hear his future predicted, avoiding both issues. On the other hand, Oedipus chose to marry someone who was old enough to be his mother - he could have chosen someone who was younger than he was, close to his own age, or simply to be celibate. He could have chosen to control his temper on the road and not kill his father's group (as you pointed out - especially since he had just been told he would kill his father, and Laius was about the right age to have fathered Oedipus). He also could have chosen to research the possibility that Merope and Polybus weren't his biological parents more than he did (which was not at all). Overall, I think that you could blame either Oedipus or the gods - but, since I believe in personal responsibility, Oedipus is the guilty one. :-) Just my thoughts on the subject.

    posted by Mary
  3. According to everything I have read, one of the primary "philosophical problems" the Greeks were trying to solve was whether man or "god" was responsible for what happened in a person's life. Oedipus is an ideal "argument" in this search. Was Oedipus responsible for all his disasters, or were those things "in the hands of the gods" and something he could not control? As you see, you can find valid arguments on both sides. Oedipus can not control the actions of others, nor can he control nature; however, he can control how he response the what happens to him. If you read very much literature from this period, you will find many authors searching for the answer to this same question.

    posted by GuruBlue
  4. GuruBlue is right, and you can go back into Iliad and Odyssey to see the same types of conflicts in the human psyche. (Of course, the gods and goddesses don't care ... because they're deities!!) Yes, you should read widely in these cultures' literature if you want to come to any kind of meaningful conclusions. Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides ... and some of the Roman writers, too, who patterned their works on their Greek predecessors.

    posted by Writeacher

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