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Oedipus the King is one of Sophocles’ celebrated plays that was first performed in approximately 429 BC. It is among the most famous tragedies in the world, retelling the myth of Oedipus, an unfortunate king who ended up killing his father and marrying his mother without knowing it. Although some of Oedipus’s actions – less important to the main story – may be considered to be stemming from his free will, the theme of fatalism is prevailing in the play with the protagonist having no control over any of the events that led to the tragedy and one of the main morals of the story being the encouragement to revere professional seers representing Apollo because their prophecies are as infallible as fate itself.
All of the main events of Oedipus’s life appear to be a chain of strange consequences determined by the prophecies; and at the end, the protagonist gets punished for the things he cannot be blamed for. Before Oedipus was born, a divination had been made for his father, Laius, that “he Laius should die a victim at the hands of his own son” (Sophocles 820-821). So, Oedipus’s father tries to kill the baby to prevent the prophecy from fulfilling. But the protagonist is saved by a shepherd and eventually adopted and raised by Polybus, the king of Corinth, and by his wife without knowing about his true parentage. As Oedipus grows up, he appears to be a decent man who has no intention to perform any of the outrageous acts the prophecy foretold: “I was held greatest of the citizens / in Corinth . . .” (Sophocles 904-905). However, one more prophecy done in the Pythian temple informs the protagonist that he would kill his father and marry his mother. As such, Oedipus is terrified at the prospect and is willing to go to great lengths and endure much suffering only to avoid it: “. . . I fled / to somewhere where I should not see fulfilled / the infamies told in that dreadful oracle” (Sophocles 928-930). The protagonist says that “the murder and the incest” (Sophocles 1140) foretold are his “constant terror” (Sophocles 1142). Still, his very attempt to avoid it leads to the fulfillment of the prophecy. King Laius and his servants “want to thrust . . . Oedipus / out of the road by force” (Sophocles 938-939). When the Oedipus fights back, his biological father strikes him “from his carriage, / full on the head with his two pointed goad” (Sophocles 942-943). This is when Oedipus gets angry and kills the king and his servants. One may argue Oedipus’s slaying of these people makes his punishment fair. But it should be noted that he was attacked and insulted first; other Greek heroes have killed for less (if any) offenses, and such behavior was not considered immoral. What makes Oedipus’s deed different is the fact that his victim was his biological father, although he is not aware of this fact. Unbeknownst to him, he marries his biological mother, Jocasta. As such, Oedipus’s complete unawareness makes him unaccountable for the prophesied crimes. But the fate appears to be eager to punish the protagonist for the things he cannot be blamed for anyway. If Apollo’s curse had not fallen on the population of Thebes and another oracle had not made it clear the murderer of Laius was the reason for the curse, the truth about Oedipus’s biological parents may not have been revealed at all, and the story would not have been a tragedy. But the prevalence of fate over individual’s choice is emphasized throughout the story.
One of the reasons for such fatalism may be an attempt to call for respect of gods and prophets in the play. The most evident demonstration of such intention in Oedipus can be found in the words of the chorus: “The oracles concerning Laius / are old and dim and men regard them not. / Apollo is nowhere clear in honor; God’s service / perishes” (Sophocles 1030-1033). These words reveal the concern that if the prophecy about Oedipus had turned false (or if people thought it was false), it would have undermined Greeks’ respect and fear of gods and their prophets. This is why Oedipus had to become a victim of fate in the story. Other proofs of this motivation being important for the play can be found in various dismissing remarks about prophecies the protagonist and Jocasta make: “Ha! Ha! O dear Jocasta, why should one / look to the Pythian hearth?” (Sophocles 1086-1087); “O oracles of the Gods, where are you now?” (Sophocles 1068). But the ending of the story is meant to reveal how mistaken their words are, with all the prophecies fulfilling and leading to the family’s doom. 
Oedipus the King is one of the examples of fatalistic plays. It gives the protagonist no control over his life as everything he tries to do to avoid the prophecy actually leads to its fulfillment. At the end of the story, Oedipus is severely punished for the things he cannot be blamed for. This is done to convince the readers (and the audience) of the play in the infallibility of fate and prophecies and thus to make sure they fear their gods and respect these gods’ prophets. 

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Oedipus the King is one of Sophocles’ celebrated plays that was first performed in approximately 429 BC. It is among the most famous tragedies in the world, retelling the myth of Oedipus, an unfortunate king who ended up killing his father and marrying his mother without knowing it. Although some of Oedipus’s actions – less important to the main story – may be considered to be stemming from his free will, the theme of fatalism is prevailing in the play with the protagonist having no control over any of the events that led to the tragedy and one of the main morals of the story being the encouragement to revere professional seers representing Apollo because their prophecies are as infallible as fate itself.
All of the main events of Oedipus’s life appear to be a chain of strange consequences determined by the prophecies; and at the end, the protagonist gets punished for the things he cannot be blamed for. Before Oedipus was born, a divination had been made for his father, Laius, that “he Laius should die a victim at the hands of his own son” (Sophocles 820-821). So, Oedipus’s father tries to kill the baby to prevent the prophecy from fulfilling. But the protagonist is saved by a shepherd and eventually adopted and raised by Polybus, the king of Corinth, and by his wife without knowing about his true parentage. As Oedipus grows up, he appears to be a decent man who has no intention to perform any of the outrageous acts the prophecy foretold: “I was held greatest of the citizens / in Corinth . . .” (Sophocles 904-905). However, one more prophecy done in the Pythian temple informs the protagonist that he would kill his father and marry his mother. As such, Oedipus is terrified at the prospect and is willing to go to great lengths and endure much suffering only to avoid it: “. . . I fled / to somewhere where I should not see fulfilled / the infamies told in that dreadful oracle” (Sophocles 928-930). The protagonist says that “the murder and the incest” (Sophocles 1140) foretold are his “constant terror” (Sophocles 1142). Still, his very attempt to avoid it leads to the fulfillment of the prophecy. King Laius and his servants “want to thrust . . . Oedipus / out of the road by force” (Sophocles 938-939). When the Oedipus fights back, his biological father strikes him “from his carriage, / full on the head with his two pointed goad” (Sophocles 942-943). This is when Oedipus gets angry and kills the king and his servants. One may argue Oedipus’s slaying of these people makes his punishment fair. But it should be noted that he was attacked and insulted first; other Greek heroes have killed for less (if any) offenses, and such behavior was not considered immoral. What makes Oedipus’s deed different is the fact that his victim was his biological father, although he is not aware of this fact. Unbeknownst to him, he marries his biological mother, Jocasta. As such, Oedipus’s complete unawareness makes him unaccountable for the prophesied crimes. But the fate appears to be eager to punish the protagonist for the things he cannot be blamed for anyway. If Apollo’s curse had not fallen on the population of Thebes and another oracle had not made it clear the murderer of Laius was the reason for the curse, the truth about Oedipus’s biological parents may not have been revealed at all, and the story would not have been a tragedy. But the prevalence of fate over individual’s choice is emphasized throughout the story.
One of the reasons for such fatalism may be an attempt to call for respect of gods and prophets in the play. The most evident demonstration of such intention in Oedipus can be found in the words of the chorus: “The oracles concerning Laius / are old and dim and men regard them not. / Apollo is nowhere clear in honor; God’s service / perishes” (Sophocles 1030-1033). These words reveal the concern that if the prophecy about Oedipus had turned false (or if people thought it was false), it would have undermined Greeks’ respect and fear of gods and their prophets. This is why Oedipus had to become a victim of fate in the story. Other proofs of this motivation being important for the play can be found in various dismissing remarks about prophecies the protagonist and Jocasta make: “Ha! Ha! O dear Jocasta, why should one / look to the Pythian hearth?” (Sophocles 1086-1087); “O oracles of the Gods, where are you now?” (Sophocles 1068). But the ending of the story is meant to reveal how mistaken their words are, with all the prophecies fulfilling and leading to the family’s doom. 
Oedipus the King is one of the examples of fatalistic plays. It gives the protagonist no control over his life as everything he tries to do to avoid the prophecy actually leads to its fulfillment. At the end of the story, Oedipus is severely punished for the things he cannot be blamed for. This is done to convince the readers (and the audience) of the play in the infallibility of fate and prophecies and thus to make sure they fear their gods and respect these gods’ prophets. 

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