Why is Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex considered an ideal tragic hero by Aristotle?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The final speech of the chorus in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex says of Oedipus that:

He was the most powerful of men.
All citizens who witnessed this man’s wealth
were envious. Now what a surging tide
of terrible disaster sweeps around him.

This choral statement summarizes the reason why Aristotle considered Oedipus the perfect tragic hero. First, for Aristotle, the action of a tragedy should be of a "certain magnitude" and concern people who are greater than average. The curse of the Theban house, involving the death of rulers and a fratricidal war, is such a theme. Oedipus himself is noble in birth, and has a certain greatness of character. He solved the riddle of the sphinx and spares no effort to rid the city of the plague. The fall of Oedipus, with whom we sympathize, thus evokes fear and pity leading to catharsis.