Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
A study of the work Sophocles’ `Oedipus Rex` focusing on the enlightenment of Oedipus.
This paper reviews the famous story of Oedipus who was destined to kill his father and marry his mother and discusses how his action of evading his fate by leaving Corinth was an attempt to exert his free will and seek truth and enlightenment. It argues that, although Oedipus was intent on pursuing the truth throughout his lifetime, without first realizing his own ignorance it was not possible for him to acquire knowledge and true enlightenment. Oedipus was ignorant of his true parentage. It concludes that by asserting his free will over destiny, Oedipus was, in fact, punishing himself for the one true and courageous act of his lifetime the successful discovery of enlightenment!
`Although acknowledging the importance of destiny, Greek general thought placed little emphasis on determinism and preferred to portray mankind as possessing free will. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles addresses both sides of the coin by, on the one hand, stressing the infallibility of the oracle of Apollo, yet also endowing Oedipus with ultimate control over his own actions. It is within this context that the story of Oedipus portrays the tragic plunge of a powerful and wealthy man into the depths of ruin and dishonor. Likewise, Plato, in the Allegory of the Cave and other writings, carefully balances the importance and influence of fate with humankind’s ability to control and steer their path to truth and enlightenment. Although many have raised and examined the similarities which underlie the tale of Oedipus and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, this paper will propose the view that Plato would have taken, and considers the advice and comment that he may have passed upon Oedipus.`