Is it fair to say that in Sophocles "Oedipus is innocent and gods are evil"? Give reasons for your answer.just compare the two

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

That makes a lot of sense to me. I have always thought that Oedipus really got a bad deal here.  It is not as if he knew what he was doing.  He didn't kill his dad knowing that was his dad, he didn't marry his mom knowingly.  So what was it that he actually did that was wrong?

To my way of thinking, nothing.  So to me, what's messed up is the value system (the gods) shown in the play.  This is a system where it is what you do, not why you do it, that matters.  I think why you do things is what determines their morality and so I don't think Oediupus did anything wrong.  That makes the gods evil if they are punishing him so harshly (and his city as well) when he didn't do anything wrong.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Certainly, there is a part of the quote that is quite accurate.  Oedipus is not entirely and fully responsible for his fate.  Yet, I would suggest that we cannot call him entirely "innocent" because he does demonstrate a sense of hubris when it is not necessary.  His repudiation of Tiresias and of the belief that he is subject to the will of the fates are examples of a character flaw.  While this is not deliberate, I cannot feel entirely comfortable calling him "innocent."  He does understand, at the end, his own lack of vision.  Certainly, it is noted that he does suffer for being human, no more, no less.  In terms of the Gods being evil, I think that similar analysis applies for it does not seem like the gods deliberately target Oedipus.  Rather, he becomes a part of the larger drama.  While the gods could have done more to spare him, they do not strike me as overtly evil for, in this case, if the standard for evil is the mere not taking action, a very rigid definition emerges.

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