Oedipus Rex Questions and Answers
by Sophocles

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What caused the downfall of Oedipus in Oedipus the King, pride or anger?

What causes the downfall of Oedipus in Oedipus the King, pride or anger?

Pride, or hubris, causes the downfall of Oedipus in Oedipus the King. While anger is also a contributing factor, Oedipus's anger stems from his pride, as is demonstrated when Oedipus grows angry and kills Laius because Laius offended him.

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Pride, also called hubris, is the cause of Oedipus's downfall. On a human level, it is pride that causes Oedipus to unknowingly kill his father, Laius, on the road to Thebes. His sense of pride—his sense that Laius should move aside for him and not vice versa—drives Oedipus to get angry enough to murder the man who will not let him pass. Much later, as the play opens and Creon returns from the oracle with the news that someone's sin has caused the plague in Thebes, Oedipus has too much pride (hubris) to imagine it could possibly be him.

This human pride is connected to a much more fatal form of pride, according to the Greek worldview. Oedipus has the pride to think he can beat what the gods have foreordained. That is a terrible sin. When he learns, while living in Corinth with the people he thinks are his parents, that he was fated at birth to murder his father and marry his mother, he believes he can make his own fate. He heads out from Corinth, believing that he has escaped from the...

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