Oedipus: Fate vs. Free Will

Fate is responsible for many events, such as the tragedy of Oedipus. Although some people may lay the fault on others, they were really just part of fate’s plans all along. Jocasta and Laius, a queen and King from ancient Greece, found out they were to have a son. But they did not know from the moment Jocasta became pregnant, fate had plans for their son. Before he was even born Oedipus was destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Despite his parent’s attempt to kill him as a baby and Oedipus himself running from his fate, the result was still what fate had planned all along.

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Fate used everybody and made them all play a part in the tragedy. Even without the actions of Oedipus’ parents, Tiresias, and the gods, Oedipus still would have killed his father and married his mother. Although the blame from the tragedy of Oedipus could fall on many different people, ultimately fate is at fault. Revealing the future to humans is one way the tragedy is fate’s fault. “One often meets his destiny on the path to avoid it” (Max Wippermann). If Jocasta and Laius had not known their fate there never would have abandoned Oedipus.

If he had not been abandoned, Oedipus would have known his real parents and the prophecy would not have come true. But this was fate’s plan all along. After Oedipus went to Delphi to hear his fate, he started “running towards some place where [he] would never see the shame of all those oracles come true” (879-880). In Oedipus’ flight, he encountered Lauis and killed him. He then continued into Thebes to marry his mother. If Oedipus had never saw the oracle then he would have stayed in Corinth, but this was his destiny. Learning one’s fate causes them to follow the path towards it even more quickly than if they were oblivious to it.

Fate shapes the path of Oedipus’ life. The shepherd who was meant to have him killed “pitied the little baby” and “he saved him” (1301-1303). But by saving him from death he caused him to live out a life of pain. If the shepherd had left Oedipus in the mountains like he was ordered to do, Oedipus would have dies and the prophecy would have not come true. Fate saw this possibility when Oedipus was given to the shepherd and changed the direction of the path Oedipus followed so he could live to fulfill his fate. As Oedipus ran from Delphi and Corinth after hearing his fate he came upon

Lauis and his men who “were about to thrust [him] off the road” (889). This provoked Oedipus and caused him to strike Lauis which started the fight. Fate made Lauis shove Oedipus to the side of the road. Fate lets most things go on their own, but sometimes needs to interfere in order to make sure the end result is still what it wants. The tragedy of Oedipus was caused by fate. Fate changed to course of events and twisted the future to make things happen the way they did. Fate made new paths for people to follow so the prophecy would come true exactly the way it wanted. Without fate, the tragedy of Oedipus never would have occurred.


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