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

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Though Oedipus could be considered innocent of incest because he did not know Jocasta was his mother, he is not a completely innocent character. Though he was prophesied to kill King Laius, he still made the decision to do so. When the two men met at the crossroads, they got...

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Though Oedipus could be considered innocent of incest because he did not know Jocasta was his mother, he is not a completely innocent character. Though he was prophesied to kill King Laius, he still made the decision to do so. When the two men met at the crossroads, they got into a fight that was spurred by pride and arrogance. Even though Laius and his people were also at fault, Oedipus could have walked away instead of killing people.

Instead, Oedipus murdered Laius, went to Thebes, became the king, and married Jocasta. When Jocasta tells him about her husband and the prophecy, Oedipus says:

Instead,
they must keep him from their doors, a curse
I laid upon myself. With these hands of mine,
these killer’s hands, I now contaminate
the dead man’s bed.

It's clear that Oedipus feels a lot of responsibility for his actions and the consequences. However, Oedipus was born under a curse that his father, Laius, was responsible for. Oedipus was the instrument of his punishment; he didn't do anything to deserve being cursed and certainly didn't knowingly marry his own mother and father her children.

Ultimately, the only thing Oedipus is really guilty for is murdering Laius. Even that act might be understandable because there was aggression on both sides.

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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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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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