Fate Versus Free Will Essay

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Fate Versus Free Will Fate, as described in the Oxford English Dictionary, is “The principle, power, or agency by which, according to certain philosophical and popular systems of belief, all events, or some events in particular, are unalterably predetermined from eternity.” To the western world, fate is perceived as “a sentence or doom of the gods” (Oxford). They often sought prophecies of the gods, especially from Apollo, the god of knowledge. The Greeks would seek prophecies usually when they had doubts about something, or if they were afraid or in despair. When the gods made a prophecy, the Greeks put all their faith in it and believed that it would happen. When their prophecies did come true, was it really fate that …show more content…
Edith Hamilton agrees that “the human mind played no part at all in the whole business” (176). Three oracles are introduced. An oracle is a communication pathway between mortals and the gods. The first oracle predicts a murder. Laius, the king of Thebes, hears the prophecy that his son will kill him. The second oracle predicts that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. The third and final oracle states that whoever can solve the riddle of the Sphinx will win the throne of Thebes and Iocaste as his Queen. These three oracles serve as the backbone of the story. Knowing these, the audience sits back to wait the turn of events. Reading the play while knowing the oracles can be compared to watching a movie for the second time: you still think the characters will make a different decision. However, these characters are the victims of fate, and their actions have already been planned out, or have they?

When the Greeks received bad prophecies, they often tried to avoid their fate through actions of their own. When Laius hears that his son will kill him, he tries to avoid it. He, along with Iocaste, pins their child’s legs together and gives him to a messenger to be disposed of on a mountain. However, out of pity for the boy, the messenger gives the baby to a shepherd of a nearby town, Corinth. Thus the boy grows up to become Oedipus. Later in his life, Oedipus learns

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