The Role Of Fate In The Story Of Oedipus

Although it is widely alleged that destiny is by choice, there are a vast number of people who believed that it is by fate. Those who believed it is by choice follow the directions and guidance of their elders. For example, they will try to hold on to the values that their parents instilled in them and use them to guide their entire lives. Others who believed that destiny is by fate, believe that the outcome of their lives is determined by luck, and that no matter what they do or how careful they are, whatever has to happen to them must happen. These proponents that emphasize that destiny is by fate may have gotten their belief from myth such as the story of Oedipus, which is a perfect illustration of how destiny is by fate. Just like most mythical stories, the characters in this story tried unsuccessfully to change fate to suit them. However, as you are about to see, fate cannot change. It can only be redirected, but will still eventually achieve its objective.

At the beginning of the plot there were the king and queen of Thebes: Laius and Jocasta. It’s been stated that Apollo told Laius that if he wanted to save his kingdom, he must die without offspring. Being as stubborn as all mythological figures do, he and his wife still wanted children. So they went to the Oracle of Delphi about their childlessness. It was prophesied that if he had son, the son would kill him and marry his mother. Laius didn’t take this warning seriously, but when his son, Oedipus, was born, he knew he had to kill him. So he pinned his feet together and gave him to the shepherd to do his dirty work. The shepherd took pity on Oedipus (that’s how he got his name, by his injury) and gave him to Polybus and Merope, king and queen of Corinth.

Thanks to the shepherd and the king and queen of Corinth, Oedipus is alive to fulfill the prophecy. Throughout his childhood to manhood, Oedipus started to inherit little pieces of his past. But when he tried to obtain more information, no one would say anything. So he went to the Oracle of Delphi. There he was informed of his fate in an unclear way. When Oedipus heard of this, he left Corinth to avoid killing his adoptive father who he believes is his real father. On his way to Thebes, he runs into this chariot. It just so happens that this chariot had his birth father in it, but both father and son didn’t know nor recognize each other. They got into a heated fight because Laius ordered him out of the road. Oedipus thought of this demand as being an insult, and furthermore killed his father and his guards.

As you can see, no matter how it’s sought out, whether knowing consciously or not, fate is going to come true. According to the story, “Oedipus the King”, a famous part of Oedipus’s life was when he came across the Sphinx at the cross roads that asks riddles to travelers. No one ever passed this intersection to or from Thebes because no one ever got one of his riddles correct. The specific riddle he asked Oedipus was: “What walks on four in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?” Oedipus answered, “Man; as an infant he crawls on all four, as an adult he walks on two legs, and in old age he relies on a walking stick. ” He was the first to answer a riddle correctly, which caused the Sphinx to commit suicide over the cliff top. Through this event, the people of Thebes appointed Oedipus as their king and he married the recently widowed queen, his mom, which he doesn’t know yet. He fulfilled the prophecy and didn’t even know it. Fate is really something else. Within his future years, fate kept interrupting his life. The land of Thebes was going through famine and all the women were not having children. So Oedipus sent Creon, Jocasta brother, to the Oracle of Delphi to find out what to do. Creon was told that Oedipus must find the murderer of the last king, Laius, and he must be either killed or exiled. But Tiresias, a blind prophet, said that they should not go looking for him because the murderer was Oedipus. He also hinted vaguely that Jocasta and Laius were Oedipus’ parents. When the truth was finally discovered, his mother and wife, Jocasta, hung herself. As a result, Oedipus stabbed his eyes out with two pins from Jocasta clothing, leaving himself blind due to his misery.

Oedipus had four children with Jocasta, two girls and two boys. In his last days, he asked Creon to look after his daughters. And as the prophecy said, such is done. Oedipus was exiled from his kingdom and left to wander blindly through the country, dying in Colonus. Between his sons, they were supposed to alternate the throne every year. But one son, Etecole, refused to give up the throne after his year, causing the other son, Polynices to create an army. They both ended up dying by each other’s hand. Consequently, Creon gained the throne. In the end, all of Oedipus’s children die because of the curse of Apollo and the prophecies of the Oracle of Delphi.

From this illustration, it can be seen how mythology is associated with people’s thinking and how it influences their belief in fate. If a person is illiterate and naive, one could be easily carried away into believing this story is true. These kinds of fictional stories cause some people to actually alter their every action. It is because of these kinds of fake stories why some people in our society do stupid things like not walking under a ladder because they believe it brings bad luck, never stepping over a penny, or even carry good luck charm with them every day. They consider that the outcome of their lives will be decided by these silly actions. These myths may even create fear in some people because they believe if they mistakenly do one of these woes they might be cursed for life or even die. Some people may not even make the effort to do any thing constructively to make their lives better, because they believe that fate will determine what they will achieve in life, whether or not they try. The relevance of myth today should be seen as something to teach a lesson to guide someone into doing the right things in the society. It should influence people to make careful decisions with regards to how they relate with each other, which may ultimately impact the outcome of their lives in a positive way. According to this myth, destiny is not a fate, but a choice, because Apollo said that he would save his kingdom just as long as he didn’t have children, but he just had to be stubborn and have a child. And that curse lived on through him and his family’s offspring. If Laius had chosen not to have children maybe he would have died in old age rather than his son killing him at an early age.

In conclusion, I accept that destiny is a choice of one’s actions and not a fate. It should remind you to make careful and wise decisions today because the actions you take today may influence the rest of your entire life. If you make good choices today they will enhance your life in the future. For instance, if you don’t finish high school or go on to college, you’ll always be working a minimum wage job, maybe even cleaning toilets. You will not have enough money to buy a nice house and to sustain a middle class family if you choose to have one, especially in this economy. Now, if you decide to make incorrect choices, the consequences of messing up your whole life are more likely. For example, let’s say you were drinking and driving, it is likely that you may get into a car accident and die or hurt other people in the process. As you can see, the outcome of your life can all be determined by one or more wrong choices that make your life miserable forever. I believe if you just follow what you are told and make clever choices, then you would save yourself, your family, and your upcoming family generations a lot of problems. And this is why I consider that destiny is by choice.

10 October 2020
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