Oedipus Rex Questions and Answers
by Sophocles

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What was Sophocles' intention in writing "Oedipus Rex"? What issues or questions was he trying to present to the audience of his time?

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No one can ever know for sure what Sophocles' intentions were in writing Oedipus Rex, or indeed any of his plays, for that matter. However, there's no doubt that the play deals with a number of themes that must have been important to him and to other Greeks at the time. For instance, the Greeks strongly believed in fate, and that it was both foolish and arrogant to go against it. Yet that's precisely what Oedipus does throughout the play, trying to defy his destiny by ever more elaborate means, only to bring ruin upon himself and his kingdom.

What's more, fate has been decreed by the gods. For the Greeks, defying fate was therefore not just not wrong, it was impious, an act of sacrilege against the gods. In defying the will of the immortals, Oedipus is effectively setting himself up as a god. The killing of his own father, albeit carried out through ignorance, represents in microcosm how Oedipus has...

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