The Second Peloponnesian War Analysis

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While Ancient Greek tragedies are purely fictional, their themes parallel prevalent issues in society at the time. Historians often attribute the Second Peloponnesian War to the arrogance of Athens--to the Athenian belief that they were invulnerable. In early fifth-century B.C., otherwise known as the Golden Age, Athens was the leading city-state in politics, economics, and culture. Several philosophers predicted an inevitable downfall of Athens, and by the turn of the century, the city had been devastated in every aspect of society in which they previously boasted. When Athens fell to Sparta, it revealed the inherent flaws of Athenian society. Drawing influence from the causes of the Second Peloponnesian War, Sophocles wrote Oedipus …show more content…
Throughout the play, Oedipus, the king, grapples with the evidence that confirms him as Laius’ killer and his obligation to find the truth. Despite his proclamation of banishment to the culprit and the slowly mounting evidence, Oedipus continues to unravel his past. At one point, his wife Jocasta discloses that she had “fastened [her son’s] ankles together” (41) before casting him away into the mountains. Later, the Corinthian messenger reveals that Oedipus also had his “ankles pinned together” as a child and that his name comes “from that misfortune” (58). Oedipus’ name, translating to “swollen foot,” points to his connection with Jocasta’s past and the prophecy. Oedipus recognizes the obvious parallels …show more content…
But unlike Oedipus, Jocasta handles her conflict through hypocrisy and denial. The idea that the gods influence her life terrifies her, and as a result, Jocasta forces herself to believe that “life is governed by the operations of chance. Nothing can be clearly foreseen. The best way to live is by hit or miss, as best you can” (53). Jocasta’s life best resembles a balance, with the evidence to support the prophecies on one side and how much she can ignore on the other. She convinces herself that prophetic power does not exist, yet attempted to avoid the prophecy of Laius’ death by sending their child into the mountains. When Laius died, Jocasta reasoned that it was due to chance, thus proving to herself that the prophecy was wrong. But the moment the Corinthian messenger reveals where he found Oedipus as a baby, Jocasta’s balance tips. Not even Jocasta, who could ignore Oedipus’ injuries to his ankle and the meaning of his name, could overlook the proof. In her desperation to retain control of her life, Jocasta begs Oedipus to not interrogate the shepherd, and when he refuses, she takes her own life. Ultimately, Jocasta is a character who would do anything to avoid facing the truth. When the prophecies came to fruition, Jocasta realizes that she never had any control over her life. Unlike Oedipus, Jocasta refuses to accept

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