The Responsibility Of Fate In Antigone And Oedipus Rex

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In Greek mythology, humans are often portrayed as mere pieces of a board game played by the gods. Fate plays an essential role in Antigone and Oedipus Rex, where it unfolds and leads to the tragedy of these characters. Despite superficial differences between the plots, there is the irony of the futility of free choice present in both poems. These characters use personal approaches in efforts to alter their prophecies, yet that ‘freedom’ of action is ultimately driven by fate. In Oedipus Rex, characters strive to foil the prophecy that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. However, their individual actions are futile because fate is unstoppable. When Oedipus learns of his fate from the Oracle, he “heard and fled... [to] where …show more content…
In Antigone, she is well-aware of her fate without a seer nor oracle consulting her, as she knew “I did not intend to pay the penalty to the gods for violating these laws in fear of some man 's opinion/for I know I will die (Antigone, 470-471). Here, fate is not delivered through a messenger, but it is an unspoken order that reflects on the duties of Greek society under the direction of the gods. Even for Creon, Tiresias warns, “the gods arouse against you” (Antigone, 1074). Fate in this story is portrayed more as an unwritten law: characters are given warnings by seers before their actions are determined with chances of redemption, or for Antigone, fate is an element that drives her actions. On the other hand, Oedipus was told directly by the oracle of Delphi that “[he] should lie with [his] mother, ... And that should be [his] father 's murderer” (Oedipus Rex, 280-284). Even though Oedipus tries to escape his fate, it is told by the Oracle of Delphi repeatedly since birth (rather than from a seer) and the voice of his fate comes directly from the gods, which makes his prophecy more inexorable in contrast to Antigone’s. Antigone embraces death over life, but Oedipus wants disclosure and is more limited by the lack of choices of his inescapable destiny. Instead of destruction by his fate, he encounters tragedy because of his persistence …show more content…
Antigone and Oedipus Rex are two epics where free will is represented in distinguishing ways, yet ultimately their actions conclude to foreseen tragedies that are operated by the gods. This raises the question of how people in ancient Greece viewed themselves and their reverence to the gods. As a society that emphasized democracy, which stresses individualism and options, did people actually make their own choices? Or was everything that occurred predetermined and bound to happen in a certain way, no matter how much citizens thought they had a say? In that case, democracy in Greece would be ironic to its definition and instead should be reflected on the absolute power of one rather than the power of many. This further ties into the evidence that free will is controlled by fate, even if society presumes otherwise. Questions could also arise on how Greeks determined their ethics, laws and morality, and whether these ideas were reflections of humanity or the gods. Sophocles writes the two tragedies that leaves many unanswered questions, yet these epics can suggest that in ancient Greek society, the power of destiny and the gods were immensely potent, and the free will of humans could have been governed by that

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