In Sophocles's view, what role do the gods play in man's destiny? I am also supposed to reference the chorus and their view on the order of the universe.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Most would argue that Sophocles views the gods as in complete control of a man’s destiny. The prophecy from the gods drives the entire play. While characters spend their lives trying to defy it or prove it wrong, every one of their actions actually perpetuates the prophecy; it is impossible...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Sign Up for 48 Hours Free Access

Most would argue that Sophocles views the gods as in complete control of a man’s destiny. The prophecy from the gods drives the entire play. While characters spend their lives trying to defy it or prove it wrong, every one of their actions actually perpetuates the prophecy; it is impossible to escape. Even so, Oedipus believes he can escape it and take matters into his own hands. When he first learns the curse on Thebes is related to Laius’s murder, he takes it upon himself to solve Thebes's problems rather than seek the help of the gods. Later, when he starts to learn more information about his past, his pride swells and he refuses to accept that he might be headed for demise. He says “I am the child of luck; I cannot be dishonored. . . How could I not be glad to know by birth?” Though Jocasta warns him to stop searching for information, his desire to know his past blinds him. Still, this knowledge does not change the fate that the gods have in store for him. Whether he knows his origins or not, his fate will be the same. In his mind, though, the information he finds will please him and will show the error in the gods’ prophecy.

The chorus is aware of the danger of Oedipus’s desire to prove the prophecy wrong, and where Oedipus seems to disregard their power (aside from asking them about the curse), the Chorus seeks their assistance and recognizes their power. They warn of what will happen if Oedipus continues on his path to defy the prophecy:

The tyrant is the child of pride
Who drinks from his great sickening cup
Recklessness and vanity,
Until from his high crest headlong
He plummets to the dust of hope

Essentially, the chorus here predicts the tragic downfall of Oedipus, who is brought to ruin by his pride.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team