Oedipus: A Tragic Hero

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Oedipus: A Tragic Hero

Oedipus: A Tragic Hero
Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King is Sophocles's first play of "The Theban Cycle." It tells
the story of a king that tries to escape his fate, but by doing so he only brings about
his downfall. Oedipus is a classic example of the Aristotelian definition of a tragic
hero. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a basically good and noble person who causes his
own downfall due to a flaw in his character.

Oedipus is a man of noble blood; his parents, who raised him as a child, were King Polybus
and Queen Merope of Corinth. Oedipus also becomes a king himself when he solves the
Sphinx's riddle, thus saving Thebes and taking over the throne of the late King Laius.
Oedipus then marries Jocasta, Laius's widow, and they have children together. Though he is
a very fair and understanding husband, Oedipus's main concern is always the city of
Thebes. When a plague strikes the city, Oedipus refused sleep until he finds the cause,
and he, "…sent Creon,…To Delphi, Apollo's place of revelation, To learn there, if he
can, What act or pledge of mine may save the city" (Sophocles 1257). Oedipus then vows to
find who killed King Laius after Creon reveals that Laius's death must be avenged so that
the plague will be dispersed.

Oedipus, a great and noble king was flawed by his hubris, or spiritual pride. Oedipus
believes that he could avoid what the oracle told him long ago: he would kill his father
and then marry his mother. Instead of returning to his home of Corinth, Oedipus wandered
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