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Fate In Oedipus Rex

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The characters in Oedipus the King express many different views on fate, prophecy, and the power of the gods. Characters like the chorus and the leader have solid beliefs in the gods and prophecy, but their faith is shaken many times and is changed based on the events that happen. Other characters like Jocasta refuse to accept the prophecies as truth. Towards the end of the play, however, all have no hesitation in their minds that the power of the gods and prophecies are valid. Everything that was foretold becomes true, extinguishing any doubt and maddening those who did not believe. Thus, Sophocles ultimately suggests that fate is unavoidable and it is unwise to try to alter it. The people of Thebes initially trust all the prophets and seers, but through the course of the play, their faith slowly declines. At the beginning of the play, the chorus has no doubt that the gods have unlimited influence in human lives. The chorus carefully listens to the gods’ advice and wonders “what word from the gold vaults of Delphi comes to brilliant Thebes.” The leader states that “Tiresias sees with the eyes of Lord Apollo. Anyone searching for the truth…might learn it from the prophet.” Later on, however, the chorus begins to doubt the ability of prophets. When Tiresias makes bold predictions and accusations against Oedipus, the chorus “can’t accept him, can’t deny him, [and] don’t know what to say.” Although they question “whether a mere man can know the truth, whether a seer can fathom more than [them],” they quickly add that “Zeus and Apollo know… all the dark and depth of human life.” The chorus declares its doubt in prophets, but they are careful to say that they still trust in the absolute power of the gods. This, like their belief in prophecies, also changes. When they think that none of the god’s prophecies had come true, they say that “never again will [they] go to Delphi” unless they have proof. They say that “the gods go down” and challenges Zeus to prove himself “if [he] deserve[s] [his] titles.” The chorus believes in prophecies at first and then begins to become wary of their credibility, unlike Jocasta, who had never believed in fate to start with.

Throughout the play, Jocasta constantly displays her doubt towards fate and prophecy, although she does not doubt the power of the gods. Jocasta’s doubt in destiny is due to the fact that the prophecies which she hears never comes true. She says that prophets have no power and that “no human can penetrate the future.” When she thinks that Oedipus’ father had died of old age, instead of being killed by his son as Oedipus’s prophecy had foretold, she exclaims, “So much for prophecy, it’s neither here nor there. From this day on, I wouldn’t look right of left.” When Oedipus tells Jocasta about his fears concerning his prophecy, Jocasta tells him not to worry. She believes prophets are frauds and that “whatever the god needs and seeks he’ll bring to light himself.”

Jocasta fiercely argues that there is



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