What is the purpose of Oedipus Rex?

The purpose of Oedipus Rex is to show how foolish it is to go against the will of the gods. That’s why what Oedipus does is a supreme act of hubris. Even when he’s been told the will of the gods by Tiresias, he still remains stubborn in his defiance of divine will, with catastrophic consequences.

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There are many morals one could derive from Oedipus Rex in order to describe its purpose, but the most important one is related to its didactic function of teaching the audience the dangers of defying the will of the gods. As is always the case in Greek tragedy, it’s the gods who ultimately call the shots. They’re in control, and woe betide any mere mortal who doesn’t understand this.

One such mere mortal is Oedipus in Oedipus Rex. He foolishly and arrogantly defies the will of the gods rather than accept his fate, a fate that the gods themselves have determined. Oedipus commits what, for the ancient Greeks, was the very serious sin of presuming to know more than the gods.

Even when the blind prophet Tiresias, a man with a direct hotline to the gods, so to speak, tells Oedipus that he is the one who murdered his father, Oedipus stubbornly refuses to accept the truth. Instead, he doubles down on his arrogance and hubris, attacking Tiresias’s integrity.

Oedipus has come to confuse earthly...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 914 words.)

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