What was the dynamic between Oedipus and the Gods/ Divinity in Oedipus Rex?

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

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Overall, I think that the role of the Gods can be seen in the power of the fates.  In this light, the question becomes whether or not Oedipus shows proper deference to the power of the fates or gods.  Does he value his own free will more than the power of the gods if a choice between the two is to be forced?  I think that this becomes the fundamental role of the divine in the play.  Oedipus understands that the Oracle of Delphi, the power of the fate, has foretold what his destiny.  He also understands that Teiresias has indicated certain truths that also represent a vision of the gods or of fate.  Yet, Oedipus continues to assert his own vision of reality, one that actively employs his own sense of free will in the face of the fated action. He goes as far as to imply that adherence to fate when free will is needed represents "inaction."  Oedipus is rarely shown to acquiesce to the power of the fates until it is sadly too late.  I think that in this light, the role of the Gods, or of the divine, is one where the primary theme of fate versus free will is evident.  Its exploration is the unfolding of the drama.  While there is not a specific God involved, the overall presence of the divine through the concept of fate is invoked and helps to drive home the theme of free will vs. fate.

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