About Sophocles

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Sophocles' Exploration of Human Potential and Limitations

Sophocles appears to be arguing about human potential and limitations throughout the play. Even with the reinforcement of human-made code, a rational person's ability to defeat prophecy (which is, in essence, a manifestation of natural law) is rendered impossible. One of the key themes Sophocles conveys during the heated debate in this tragedy is the concept of state law and the natural forces that control the land from antiquity to the present. Indeed, society is diverse, and the author uses this fact to focus on the distinctions that develop amidst the opposing and historic decision-making scenarios through various personalities (Sophocles 23). While the king represents the state rules, the human abilities, and regulations on the one hand, on the other, the prophecy is a formidable reflection of the natural law.

The Theme of Prophecy in "Oedipus the King"

The theme of prophecy remains to be an essential, yet controversial element for Oedipus the king. The play begins on a high note of tragedy when the Creon makes a return from the oracle of Delphi. Furthermore, Creon has learned that the impending plague would be lifted if the man who killed Laius is banished by Thebes. On the other hand, a prophecy comes in, and Tiresias speaks in her dream of the capture of an individual, who is both a brother and a father to his children (Sophocles 37). Indeed, it is coincidental that the king, Oedipus tells Jocasta of the prophecy her hear long ago while he was a young person. The king says amidst anxiety that he dreamed as a youth, that he would kill his biological father and sleep with his mother as an eventuality. On the other hand, Jocasta tells a tale of the similar prophecy, which was delivered to Laius, which her son would, unfortunately, grow up to claim the life of his father. It is at this moment that the natural law comes in direct conflict with the human-made doctrine of artificial understanding. Nevertheless, Sophocles creates a platform for his audience to recognize and appreciate that human nature cannot prevail against the gods, and that prophecy is a form of supernatural power whose focus cannot be obliterated. Typically, the King, Oedipus, and Jocasta take time to discuss the impact of prophecy, and how much more the gods can persist to execute that which does not emanate from human control and influence (Sophocles 69). On a critical analysis, Sophocles gives a formidable background in this play, to confirm that the powers of the prophecies and the gods cannot be defeated, following the attacks on the fifth century attacks B.C on the natural law in Athens.

The Tragedy of Prophecy and the Limitations of Humanity

Nevertheless, perhaps it is the tragedy of the prophecy that Sophocles finds room to communicate with his audience directly about the limitations of humanity and the uncompromised potential of natural forces. Indeed, it, in fact, appears desperate for king Oedipus, though he can be described as blind, in a real sense, he lacks the choice in fulfilling the prophecy in either way. While he is sent to Thebes as a young person, he was coincidentally saved and brought up in Corinth as a prince. By realizing that his fate was inseparable from harm and murder, he chooses to flee, and only ends up in Thebes coincidentally; his parents' place. While it appears that Oedipus commits the tragedy by will, it is almost unjustifiable, when one considers the efforts the kind makes to escape away from accomplishing the ill-fated prophecy (Sophocles 38). Indeed, Sophocles uses the prophecy to pass across a moral lesson that human power and efforts are limited and that a cautious and humble personality would be the best approach to life, as fate and gods are too powerful to overcome.

The Conflict Between Natural Law and State Law

In the context of the play, the natural law alludes to the principles and moral virtues established and founded in the natural order, which should never be obliterated but should be maintained and embraced as naturally correct (Sophocles 12). Nevertheless, the regulations structured by the King are termed to be the concrete norms and cultural beliefs whose flexibility is in entirety compromised by the natural law hypothesis, and it is through this that to a significant degree the Sophocles' play concerns exercise of executive discretion on the part of the powers in place. Typically, the characters in the play and the challenging moments they face. The storyline portrays a trajectory of a tragedy in the making, and whereby a lot of destructive outcomes, some of which border fatal grounds, are evidenced when the natural order plus prophecies and the state law conflict. Indeed, on not less than three occasions does Sophocles depict the king as a representative of the state law (Sophocles 31). It is surprising to the ardent believers of natural law in the play when the king maintains that he has full dominion over his actions, despite his recognition that gods are by far more superior than he does, and yet he does not relent his mean stance that he reigns not overly beyond the will of the natural forces. Such a position is radical enough in the play, to portray the king as an adamant and self-centered force, considering he does not recognize the expressly dreaded path of the gods, which ironically compels Sophocles' audience to imagine the essence of the prophecy.

Works Cited

Sophocles. Oedipus the King - Sophocles - Google Books. Ed. Edmund Doidge Anderson Morshead. MacMillan and Company, 1885 Original from Harvard University, 2008. Web.

May 17, 2023

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