In “Oedipus Tyrannus” by Sophocles, Sophocles is trying to teach his audience that humans have no ability to control their fate. He teaches his audience this lesson by explaining the life of Oedipus, the future ruler of Thebes.
In “Oedipus Tyrannus” by Sophocles, Sophocles is trying to teach his audience that humans have no ability to control their fate. He teaches his audience this lesson by explaining the life of Oedipus, the future ruler of Thebes. As characters in the play try to change Oedipus’s tragic prophecy, they end up fulfilling the prophecy, which means humans have no control of their fate. Because people knew of Oedipus’s fate and accidentally helped it come to pass, Sophocles shows his audience that it is better for people not to know their fate.
Oedipus’s prophecy began when Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, enraged the god Apollo by killing Apollo’s favorite snake. Because of Cadmus’s kill, his descendants are forced to live under a curse. Thus, a prophecy states that the son of Laius, the current king of Thebes, will kill his father and marry his mother.
Socrates proves to his audience that humans have no control over their fate by showing multiple failed attempts of people trying to prevent Oedipus’s horrible prophecy from coming true. First, Laius simply tries to kill his son by asking one of his servants to leave the baby at Mt. Cithaeron to die. Unfortunately, his attempt at avoiding fate is useless when his servant pities the infant and takes him into a caring family elsewhere.
Once one discovers what his or her destiny will be, he or she will waste time, trying to avoid the impossible. When Oedipus himself finds out about his awful future, he flees Corinth, the city where his parents supposedly are staying. Without realizing his poor decision, he comes into a messy situation with his unfamiliar father. Long after this event, he speaks with Jocasta, his wife and mother about his realization: “I was in that place where three roads meet…the man in front, and the old one, ordered me out of the path. I refused…I killed him. I killed them all…I am the one for whom my curse was meant!” (19). By this time, Oedipus has already reached the point where his prophecy is complete. After declaring vengeance for his father, he finally realizes that he has cursed himself. Therefore, Oedipus’s discovery of his fate turned against him.
Free will has no effect on fate, according to Sophocles’s play. In fact, one’s discovery of his or fate only does destruction. Because Oedipus tries to avoid his fate, he realizes that he helped “accomplish” it when it was too late.