Free Will in "Oedipus"
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The paper discusses how the works of the ancient Greek playwrights are difficult for us to read within the context of the 21st century because most people today believe in the validity of the idea of free will. It shows the difficulty to square such an almost inherited insistence on the importance and sovereignty of free will with the idea of fate that runs so deeply through classical drama. The paper argues that a closer reading of classical texts demonstrates that perhaps the classical Greeks were not so different in their understandings of human nature as we ourselves are. By examining Sophocles' treatment of the story of "Oedipus", the paper examines the fact that the Greek's insistence on the importance of fate is in fact not so very different from our own understanding of personal responsibility.
From the Paper:"There are clear corollaries to human behavior today: We look at someone like the man accused of being the Washington DC-area sniper and we can see elements of his own past that brought him to the point where he is today, and we say to ourselves, he had little choice in becoming this terrible man. But we also believe that he did have some choice: We understand that life limits the chances that each one of us has, and yet we do not believe the fact that our lives were limited gives us leave to act wrongly.
Perhaps Sophocles is saying to us, this is the hand of fate pressing down on the head of Oedipus: He has no choices. But it seems more likely " given that human nature in Sophocles's time is much the same as it is today " what he is saying is that we often have very few choices, and often not very good ones, but we always do have choices."
Cite this Analytical Essay:
Free Will in "Oedipus" (2003, January 24) Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/free-will-in-oedipus-16549/
"Free Will in "Oedipus"" 24 January 2003. Web. 18 April. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/free-will-in-oedipus-16549/>