It was Apollo who did this. He made evil, consumate evil, out of my life. But the hand that struck these eyes was my hand.
Oedipus the King, lines 1512-1517
The Greek dramatists were doing more than providing entertainment in their plays. They were trying to show their audiences truths about existence through using the culture’s myths in dramatic form. One major question that Oedipus the King and Medea bring up is the nature of fate vs. self determination. In Oedipus the King, the gods (fate) seem to always work against Oedipus, bringing him to fulfilling the prophecies regardless of what he does to avoid them. In Medea, we see a woman do the most monstrous thing possible, but she is saved by the gods from punishment for it as they swoop her off in a magic chariot, suggesting that they don’t feel she was really responsible enough for her deeds to be punished.
Based on your reading of the plays, what claims are being made about whether people are genuinely in control of their destinies or not? In what ways might Oedipus have avoided his fate, if he could have? Can we see ways in which Medea is not really responsible for what she has done? We’re looking for the dramatists’ answers to the ancient question of how responsible people are for creating the good or evil in their lives.
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