Oedipus the King: Guilty or Innocent
A Reaction Paper in English 106 (Greek Drama) Oedipus the King: Guilty or Innocent Submitted to Dr.
Ulysses B. Aparece Submitted by Elmer J. Mangubat Guilty or Innocent Guilt presupposes the commission of sin; yet what comprises sin? From the moral standpoint, sin is the denial of what is good that is ought to be done or to happen; or sin is the omission of what is ought to be done. For sin to be categorized as such, there has to be a set of moral standards from which judgment on whether sin happens or not proceeds. Thus, to say Oedipus is guilty remains to be seen.Proponents have long debated over Oedipus’s guilt or innocence. I would like to react on some of P.
Oedipus the King: Guilty or Innocent Essay Example
H. Vellacot’s assertions on the guilt of Oedipus. Firstly, Vellacot says “the terrible destiny of Oedipus is shown as one put upon him by supernatural powers in general, by that comprehensive Fate which governs every man’s life. ” At the onset of his commentary, Vellacot seems to suggest that Oedipus is already latched into this tragic path of destiny—as ordained by Fate, with the concurrence, of course, of the gods.In the intricate lives of Greek heroes and heroines, the role of the gods and goddesses is a predominant theme. It is not surprising, therefore, that Oedipus is no exception. It’s as if his fate has long been sealed, and the oracles and prophesies are just a confirmation to this tragic playing of his role.
As the term comprehensive suggests, Oedipus is bound to follow his fate as preordained by the powers that be. Secondly, Vellacot argues that if everything is because of fate then Oedipus is without sin; therefore, there can be no tragedy.Then he purports this question: “How can there be a true tragedy without sin? ” Following this line of thinking, Vellacot asserts that Sophocles must provide the sound claim for Oedipus’s sin to justify the tragic character of the play—thus Oedipus’s false accusations on Tiresias and Creon. To Vellacot, however, this move is just Sophocles’ ploy of adding sin to justify Oedipus’s downfall. This assertion of Vellacot might be bordering on speculation, yet there could be a grain of truth in it.The assertion is seemingly a potent ploy of Vellacot himself to heighten the debate over Oedipus’s guilt, which is epitomized by the question: “How can there be a tragedy without sin? ” The foregoing propositions of Vellacot on Oedipus’s innocence pave the way for Vellacot’s rebuttal—that although it was clear that the oracle had spoken, Oedipus had full awareness of the things that he should and could have avoided through the premonitions of the drunkard, and later of Tiresias.With the premonitions in place, the foremost thoughts of Oedipus should have been, as Vellacot purports, to avoid (1) killing an old man and (2) avoid marrying an elderly woman.
The literary critic E. R. Dodds shares a similar view with Vellacot. The moralist, as he says, might ask, “Knowing that he was in danger of committing patricide and incest, would not a really prudent man have avoided quarreling, even in self-defense, with men older than himself, and also love-relations with women older than himself? ” This is a very valid claim, indeed.Oedipus could have exercised self-control knowing that even the slightest of probabilities could trigger that rush of fate. Dodds reasons, however, that these considerations would have been in place had we been scrutinizing the character of a person. Instead, we should look at it in the light of the dramatist perspective, as Dodds puts it: “We are examining the intentions of a dramatist, and we are not entitled to ask questions that the dramatist did not intend to ask.
” On a personal note, I would say to some degree that Oedipus has certain culpability toward his actuations.Although the Greeks perceive their gods as if they were one with them in all that they do, the fact remains that Oedipus is still a human being; and part of his humanity is that he has the intellect and the will. To some degree, he has the will and freedom to check his actuations in the different circumstances that he is in. This would have been the ideal way that Oedipus could have played his role. However, questions would hound us again: Who are we to question the dramatist’s intentions? What would become of the play—of the tragedy in particular—had things gone the other way?