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Essay: Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
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  • Published: September 8, 2021*
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  • Sophocles' Oedipus the King
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Sophocles uses the arrogance of the tragic hero archetype to inform the audience the significance of cultural morals. Oedipus and Creon are arrogance, the quality of exaggerated self pride. Their city, Thebes, is an extremely religious city. Greek religion plays a major role in their culture. Prophets are a significant aspect to keeping the gods happy. It is culturally known that prophets are extremely accurate. The receivers of the prophets valuable advice are morally obligated to persevere the given advice. Another cultural moral is to follow the laws of the gods. Creon and Oedipus are both tragic heroes because they display the three aspects of a tragic hero; hamartia, peripeteia, and catharsis.

Sophocles uses Creon and Oedipus’s hamartia to teach the flaw of ignorance to cultural morals. Hamartia is a characteristic of a tragic hero that ultimately causes there downfall. Their hamartia is arrogance, or exaggerated self pride. Oedipus and Creon both ignore the advice of prophets, because of their self pride. Originally Creon vowed to keep Antigone safe. However, Creon acts as if he is above the gods, sentencing Antigone to death, and ignores the prophet. Righteously, Antigone performed a proper religious burial on her brother Polyneices. Creon established that Antigone breaking his law, and essentially sentences her to death. Antigone says to Creon, “What ordinance, what law of heaven broken, what god left me to cast my eyes toward, when sacraments must now be damned as sacrilege” (Sophocles 232). Antigone is stating that Creon is acting as if his laws are above the laws of the gods. What should be the way humanity connects to gods is being turned into a form of offense. However, Creon continues to ignore Thebes’ cultural morals. After Creon leaves Antigone in solarity to die, the prophet, Tiresias, comes to share news. Tiresias warns Creon he made a terrible mistake in his policy. By punishing Antigone Creon destroyed order and disrupted nature. Tiresias advises Creon to undo the mess, else the gods will be upset and his son Haemon will die. However, Creon ignores the cultural moral to accepts the prophets advice. Creon states Tiresias is corrupt and dismisses him. Oedipus also ignores the advice of Tiresias. At the time of Oedipus’ rule there was a plague, capable of being ended only with the exiling of Laius’ killer. Although, unknown by Oedipus, he is the killer of Laius. In attempts to stop the plague, Oedipus asks Tiresias who the killer is. Tiresias grudgingly reveals Oedipus is Laius’ killer. Similar to Creon, Oedipus completely disregards Tiresias’ news. Oedipus then tells Tiresias that he thinks that Tiresias played part in the murder. Oedipus also blames Creon for the murder. Since Oedipus lacks trust Tiresias word, the plague remains burdensome in Thebes. Oedipus ignores prophetic word in an earlier experience with a prophet. The prophet told Oedipus that he would marry his mother and kill his father. Oedipus again ignored the prophets word. Due to the two tragic heros’ hamartia and peripeteia is later present.

Sophocles is teaching the potential harm of the ignorance of cultural morals, through both tragic heros’ Peripeteia. Peripeteia is the tragic hero’s reversal of fortune, their downfall. Both Creon and Oedipus come to a life of adversity, subsequent to their actions of arrogance. After Creon ignores the prophet, his life rapidly fell downhill. The Chorus speaks up, and eventually convinces Creon to follow the Tiresias’ words. However, by the time Creon sets out to undo his actions it is to late. Creon hurry’s over to free Antigone from her death place. The messenger expresses the news to Eurydice, “His panic sent is flying to the cave, and in the farthest corner we could see her hanging with a moose of linen around her neck” (Sophocles 246). Antigone killed herself because the sole point to the rest her life was to die. So when Creon arrives he is too late to save Antigone. If Creon had followed the cultural moral to listen to the prophet, he would have been able to save Antigone. As the prophet said misfortune will come if Creon’s actions aren’t undone. Immediately after the discovery of Antigone’s death, Haemon attempts to kill Creon. Although, Haemon fails, and then stabs himself. Eurydice listens to the news from the messenger, and oddly walks back to the palace expressing no emotion. The messenger follows her to find out that she also commit suicide. All of Creon’s hardships come as a result of ignoring cultural morals Creon started Antigone living lavishly with his family. In the end of Antigone, Creon a man hated by gods, and lacking in a family. OedIpus also experiences Peripeteia because of his ignorance of a prophet. Oedipus’ prophecy was that he will be the killer of his father and the husband of his wife. Oedipus completely ignores his prophecy and proceeds to kill a man, later to find out that it was his father. Oedipus also marries the Queen of Thebes, Jocasta, with no hesitation, or thought of the possibility of marrying his mother. Oedipus then has children with Jocasta, with no regard to his Prophecy. After Oedipus and Jocasta discover they are mother and Son Jocasta kills herself. Similar to Creon, Oedipus starts as a king, but ends with a life of adversity. Oedipus ends the story as blind, the killer of his father, and the husband of his mother. Again, Sophocles teaches the readers the importance of cultural moral by expressing the consequences of ignoring them. At the end of each story Oedipus and Creon recognize their horrish situation and experience Catharsis.
Sophocles teaches the audience of the importance of cultural morals through Oedipus and Creon’s catharsis. Catharsis is when the tragic hero accepts his consequences, teaching truth. The audience identifies and learns from the tragic hero’s downfall. After discovering Eurydice commit suicide, Creon tells the chorus, “I killed her, I can own no alibi: the guilt is wholly mine” (Sophocles 251). Creon recognizes that his situation was solely caused by himself. Creon realizes that the cause of his hardships are rooted from his arrogance. Creon understands that he should have acted morally and listened to the Prophet. Sophocles is emphasizing the importance of cultural morals by developing Creon’s adversity. Sophocles shows the audience that the ignorance of cultural morals can lead to extreme hardships. Sophocles also shows the same message through Oedipus catharsis. Oedipus experiences catharsis through blinding himself. When talking to the chorus Oedipus says, “Oh yes, I pierced my eyes, my useless eyes, why not? When all that’s sweet had parted my vision” (Sophocles 73). He accepts the consequences of his sins by blinding himself. He Oedipus recognizes the unmoral life he has lived and the horrible consequences that follow. Sophocles’ message that cultural moral are an important aspect of life is also present in Oedipus the King.

Sophocles message about morals is still relevant in the modern world. Nowadays people live horrible lives because of the ignorance of even one moral. Similar to Oedipus and Creon, one moral flaw can turns someone’s life around entirely. Modernly, moral failures often result in a prison sentence. The prison sentence can often replace education, minimizing the prisoners chance of getting a successful job. After a prison sentence, criminals often turn back to crime, because there is no other sufficient source of income.

Sophocles uses the arrogance of the tragic hero archetype to inform the audience the significance of cultural morals. Oedipus and Creon are arrogance, the quality of exaggerated self pride. Their city, Thebes, is an extremely religious city. Greek religion plays a major role in their culture. Prophets are a significant aspect to keeping the gods happy. It is culturally known that prophets are extremely accurate. The receivers of the prophets valuable advice are morally obligated to persevere the given advice. Another cultural moral is to follow the laws of the gods. Creon and Oedipus are both tragic heroes because they display the three aspects of a tragic hero; hamartia, peripeteia, and catharsis.

Sophocles uses Creon and Oedipus’s hamartia to teach the flaw of ignorance to cultural morals. Hamartia is a characteristic of a tragic hero that ultimately causes there downfall. Their hamartia is arrogance, or exaggerated self pride. Oedipus and Creon both ignore the advice of prophets, because of their self pride. Originally Creon vowed to keep Antigone safe. However, Creon acts as if he is above the gods, sentencing Antigone to death, and ignores the prophet. Righteously, Antigone performed a proper religious burial on her brother Polyneices. Creon established that Antigone breaking his law, and essentially sentences her to death. Antigone says to Creon, “What ordinance, what law of heaven broken, what god left me to cast my eyes toward, when sacraments must now be damned as sacrilege” (Sophocles 232). Antigone is stating that Creon is acting as if his laws are above the laws of the gods. What should be the way humanity connects to gods is being turned into a form of offense. However, Creon continues to ignore Thebes’ cultural morals. After Creon leaves Antigone in solarity to die, the prophet, Tiresias, comes to share news. Tiresias warns Creon he made a terrible mistake in his policy. By punishing Antigone Creon destroyed order and disrupted nature. Tiresias advises Creon to undo the mess, else the gods will be upset and his son Haemon will die. However, Creon ignores the cultural moral to accepts the prophets advice. Creon states Tiresias is corrupt and dismisses him. Oedipus also ignores the advice of Tiresias. At the time of Oedipus’ rule there was a plague, capable of being ended only with the exiling of Laius’ killer. Although, unknown by Oedipus, he is the killer of Laius. In attempts to stop the plague, Oedipus asks Tiresias who the killer is. Tiresias grudgingly reveals Oedipus is Laius’ killer. Similar to Creon, Oedipus completely disregards Tiresias’ news. Oedipus then tells Tiresias that he thinks that Tiresias played part in the murder. Oedipus also blames Creon for the murder. Since Oedipus lacks trust Tiresias word, the plague remains burdensome in Thebes. Oedipus ignores prophetic word in an earlier experience with a prophet. The prophet told Oedipus that he would marry his mother and kill his father. Oedipus again ignored the prophets word. Due to the two tragic heros’ hamartia and peripeteia is later present.

Sophocles is teaching the potential harm of the ignorance of cultural morals, through both tragic heros’ Peripeteia. Peripeteia is the tragic hero’s reversal of fortune, their downfall. Both Creon and Oedipus come to a life of adversity, subsequent to their actions of arrogance. After Creon ignores the prophet, his life rapidly fell downhill. The Chorus speaks up, and eventually convinces Creon to follow the Tiresias’ words. However, by the time Creon sets out to undo his actions it is to late. Creon hurry’s over to free Antigone from her death place. The messenger expresses the news to Eurydice, “His panic sent is flying to the cave, and in the farthest corner we could see her hanging with a moose of linen around her neck” (Sophocles 246). Antigone killed herself because the sole point to the rest her life was to die. So when Creon arrives he is too late to save Antigone. If Creon had followed the cultural moral to listen to the prophet, he would have been able to save Antigone. As the prophet said misfortune will come if Creon’s actions aren’t undone. Immediately after the discovery of Antigone’s death, Haemon attempts to kill Creon. Although, Haemon fails, and then stabs himself. Eurydice listens to the news from the messenger, and oddly walks back to the palace expressing no emotion. The messenger follows her to find out that she also commit suicide. All of Creon’s hardships come as a result of ignoring cultural morals Creon started Antigone living lavishly with his family. In the end of Antigone, Creon a man hated by gods, and lacking in a family. OedIpus also experiences Peripeteia because of his ignorance of a prophet. Oedipus’ prophecy was that he will be the killer of his father and the husband of his wife. Oedipus completely ignores his prophecy and proceeds to kill a man, later to find out that it was his father. Oedipus also marries the Queen of Thebes, Jocasta, with no hesitation, or thought of the possibility of marrying his mother. Oedipus then has children with Jocasta, with no regard to his Prophecy. After Oedipus and Jocasta discover they are mother and Son Jocasta kills herself. Similar to Creon, Oedipus starts as a king, but ends with a life of adversity. Oedipus ends the story as blind, the killer of his father, and the husband of his mother. Again, Sophocles teaches the readers the importance of cultural moral by expressing the consequences of ignoring them. At the end of each story Oedipus and Creon recognize their horrish situation and experience Catharsis.
Sophocles teaches the audience of the importance of cultural morals through Oedipus and Creon’s catharsis. Catharsis is when the tragic hero accepts his consequences, teaching truth. The audience identifies and learns from the tragic hero’s downfall. After discovering Eurydice commit suicide, Creon tells the chorus, “I killed her, I can own no alibi: the guilt is wholly mine” (Sophocles 251). Creon recognizes that his situation was solely caused by himself. Creon realizes that the cause of his hardships are rooted from his arrogance. Creon understands that he should have acted morally and listened to the Prophet. Sophocles is emphasizing the importance of cultural morals by developing Creon’s adversity. Sophocles shows the audience that the ignorance of cultural morals can lead to extreme hardships. Sophocles also shows the same message through Oedipus catharsis. Oedipus experiences catharsis through blinding himself. When talking to the chorus Oedipus says, “Oh yes, I pierced my eyes, my useless eyes, why not? When all that’s sweet had parted my vision” (Sophocles 73). He accepts the consequences of his sins by blinding himself. He Oedipus recognizes the unmoral life he has lived and the horrible consequences that follow. Sophocles’ message that cultural moral are an important aspect of life is also present in Oedipus the King.

Sophocles message about morals is still relevant in the modern world. Nowadays people live horrible lives because of the ignorance of even one moral. Similar to Oedipus and Creon, one moral flaw can turns someone’s life around entirely. Modernly, moral failures often result in a prison sentence. The prison sentence can often replace education, minimizing the prisoners chance of getting a successful job. After a prison sentence, criminals often turn back to crime, because there is no other sufficient source of income.

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