The Fate of Oedipus in Oedipus the King
In "Oedipus the King" there comes a point in the play where Oedipus
learns something that plays an important role throughout the play. He
learns from a oracle that he will eventually kill his own Father and sleep
with his own mother. As one could imagine this is a shock to Oedipus, and
he does not believe the oracle. However, he cannot prevent any of this
from happening because it is his fate. Oedipus is a victim of circumstances
beyond his control, his life had already been planned by the Greek Gods.
Throughout the whole play there are references made to many of the
ancient Greek Gods, for example, Apollo, Zeus, Dionysis, and Artemis are
discussed quite often. In ancient Greece the people believed that if
anything happened one of the god's had a reason for it. Each god was
related to one specific thing like Poseidon being the god of the sea. They
thought that if there was a tidal wave or a hurricane it was because
Poseidon was angry at them. This is the basis for my assumption that
Oedipus had no control over his fate.
First of all, when Oedipus is just a baby his father, King Laius of
Thebes, is told in an oracle that his own son will kill him. So, with the
agreement of his wife, Jocasta, the baby's feet are pinioned, and it's
given to a slave who is supposed to leave it to die on Mt. Cithaeron.
However, the slave feels sorry for the baby, and gives it to a fellow
shepherd from Corinth. The shepherd from Corinth presented the baby to the
childless King of Corinth, who is Polybus, and he brings him up as his own.
He gives him the name Oedipus, which means swollen foot, because of his
This shows how the god's had already intended for his life to be.
He had no way to control what his parents did to him after he was born.
Then, eighteen years later, he leaves Corinth for Delphi, to check on his
parentage at the oracle of Apollo. The oracle, though, gives him a
horrific prediction. Which is that he will kill his father and sleep with
his mother, which are the two most inconceivable crime in a Greek family.
After hearing this he flees Corinth and heads toward Thebes believing to of
left his father behind in case the oracle was right.
However, the god Apollo has somewhat tricked him. Since he
believes that his real father is Polybus, but he does not yet know that his
father is the King of Thebes, which is where he is going. Along the way he
meets an old man driving a wagon of slaves at a place where three roads
meet, and he then precedes to kill him.
Years pass after this incident, during which time he becomes King
of Thebes, marries Jocasta (his mother), and fathers four children by her.
Slowly, Thebes becomes engulfed by a horrific plague,...