An Analysis of Fate vs. Free Will in the Theban Plays

1392 Words Jan 28th, 2018 6 Pages
Free Will in the Theban Plays

When Teiresias asks in Antigone (line 1051), "What prize outweighs the priceless worth of prudence?" he strikes (as usual) to the heart of the matter in Sophocles' Theban Plays. Sophocles dramatizes the struggle between fate and free will, in one sense, but in another sense the drama might be better understood as the struggle between the will of the goods (which it is prudent to follow, according to Teiresias) and man's will (which is often imprudent). Sophocles' characters are moved by their own wills, of course (either in accordance or in conflict with the will of the gods). Oedipus in Oedipus the King is determined to pursue the truth in spite of the objections of Jocasta, the priest, and his own misgivings. In Oedipus at Colonus, Theseus "cannot rest" (line 1773) until he has served both Antigone and the late Oedipus (implying that conscience is his motivator awareness, in other words, of his duty towards them). In Antigone, Antigone acts in accordance to the will of the gods (but in disobedience to the will of Creon) and does so knowing the punishment that awaits her: "Go I, his prisoner, because I honored those things to which honor truly belongs" (lines 178-9). This paper will show how while fate is a powerful force in The Theban Plays, the characters themselves are still left to exercise their own free will (either with respect or disrespect to will of the gods). Thus, the main drama consists not in the…

More about An Analysis of Fate vs. Free Will in the Theban Plays

Open Document