Oedipus The King, by Sophocles, is a play about how Oedipus lives up his fate that he will kill his father and marry his mother, both of which are extremely bad in the Greek society, even though he thinks he is getting away from it. Despite the Greek notions of supreme power of the gods and fate, Oedipus' downfall is primarily the result of King Laius' and his own actions and attempts to defy the gods, consequently Sophocles says that prophecies from the gods of someone's fate should not be ignored. Prophecies from the Oracle of Delphi are told to King Laius and Queen Jocasta, and to Oedipus.
Sophocles says that prophecies from the gods of someone's fate should not be ignored when King Laius went to the Oracle of Delphi and received a prophecy that his child, Oedipus, was going to kill him and marry his wife, Jacosta.
" Shepherd - No! No! I said it before--I gave him the child...It was the son of Laius, so I was told. But the lady inside, your wife, she is the one to tell you.
Oedipus - Did she give it to you?
Shepherd - Yes, my lord, she did...To destroy it...She was afraid of dreadful prophecies...The child would kill its parents, that was the story.
Oedipus - Then why did you give it to this old man here?
Shepherd - In pity master. I thought he would take it away to a foreign country-- to the place he came from. If you are the man he says you are, you were born the most unfortunate of men." (86-89)
When King Laius heard this prophecy and returned to Thebes to tell of this prophecy to his wife, they planned to kill their child, but neither had the guts to do it. They had a servant shepherd bring their child to Mt. Cithaeron to kill it, but the servant felt pity for the child and gave him to a fellow Shepherd from Corinth in hopes he could take it to a foreign country to take care of it.
Sophocles says that prophecies from the gods of someone's fate should not be ignored when he tells that when Oedipus was in the care of his foster parents, Polybus and Merope, he took a journey to The Oracle of Delphi without them knowing.
"Oedipus - Without telling my parents, I set off on a journey to the oracle of Apollo, at Delphi. Apollo sent me away with my question unanswered but he foretold a dreadful, calamitous future for me--to lie with my mother and beget children men's eyes would not bear the sight of--and to be the killer of the father that gave me life.
When I heard that, I ran away. From that point on I measured the distance to the land of Corinth by the stars. I was running to a place that I would never see that shameful prophecy come true."(56)
The Oracle's prophecy was that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Thinking that Polybus and Merope were his real parents, Oedipus left Corinth so that he would not have contact with his parents and the prophecy could not happen. On the way, though, Oedipus met a man and a herald that tried to run him off the road. Angered, Oedipus hit the old man and then killed both of them.
"Oedipus - On my way I came to this place where you say this king, Laius, met his death.
I will tell you the truth, all of it. As I journeyed on I came to this triple crossroads and there I was met by a herald and a man riding a horse-drawn wagon, just as you described it. The driver, the old man himself, tried to push me off the road. In anger I struck the driver as he tried to crowd me off. When the old man saw me coming past the wheels he aimed at my head with a two-pronged goad, and hit me. I paid him back in full, with interest: in no time at all he was hit by the stick I held in my hand and rolled backwards from the center of the wagon. I killed the lot of them."(56-57)
In King Laius' and Oedipus' attempts to defy the gods, they brought the downfall of Oedipus in Oedipus the King by Sophocles, in which Sophocles says that prophecies from the gods of someone's fate should not be ignored. Trying to have Oedipus killed and not succeeding was the way King Laius and Queen Jocasta tried to defy the gods and stop the prophecy from coming true. Had Laius not tried to kill his Oedipus, the events that followed up to Laius' death and Jocasta's marriage would not have happened. Oedipus leaving his foster parents is the way that Oedipus defies the gods and tries to stop the prophecy from coming true. Had he not left Corinth, he would not have met Laius, who happened to be his real father, they would not have fought, and Laius would not have been killed. In all reality, Oedipus was a goner from the minute he was born, because that was the prophecy of his fate the Oracle of Delphi gave.
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