Oedipus Rex Hero

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Oedipus Rex and the Aristotelian Tragic Hero If you were to google the world tragedy, you would probably be left with multiple definitions that all say something along the lines of a tragedy is a play with tragic events and an unhappy ending. Despite what the dictionary may say, a tragedy is much more than that. Born in ancient Greece around the sixth century BCE, they evolved throughout the ages with Elizabethan tragedy blossoming in the sixteenth century, the Neoclassical tragedy developing in the seventeenth century, and the modern tragedy coming to fruition shortly after that (Conversi). Clearly for tragedy to have survived through the ages, it must be of value, but that value may be different to different people. One man who clearly articulated…show more content…
This he expressed in his literary criticism Poetics, where he also detailed his formula for the creation of a tragedy and a tragic hero. For each element of a tragedy, Aristotle provided a description of how the element should be executed in addition to an example from a well-known Greek author in the fourth century BCE. Most often, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex was mentioned as an example of the ideal execution of an Aristotelian tragedy fit with a tragic hero. And although Oedipus Rex was written long prior to Poetics, its main character, Oedipus, is considered by many to be the epitome of a tragic hero, embodying all six essential elements. First, Oedipus is both virtuous and of noble status; however he does have flaws to prevent him from seeming too perfect. It is one of these flaws that becomes his hamartia or “tragic flaw”, leading to the hero’s downfall. Next, the crime caused by Oedipus' hamartia is punished, but although the punishment he receives is not wholly merited, it is not excessive and it must…show more content…
To Aristotle this was crucial to fulfill the play’s purpose of teaching, as he believed that we could only learn from those socially and morally above us. To firmly establish Oedipus’ nobility, Sophocles presents his nobility in multiple ways. First, Oedipus is born to noble parents, King Laius and Queen Jocasta, establishing the nobility of his blood. Despite Oedipus’ ignorance of this fact, most viewers of the time would have known this truth, making this noble birth relevant to the construction of the tragic hero’s nobility (Struck). Next, even should the audience not know the truth of Oedipus’ birth, they would soon be introduced to Oedipus' adoptive parents: the King and Queen of Corinth, who establish Oedipus’ status as a prince. Finally, Sophocles reinforces this noble status by having Oedipus crowned King of Thebes after he saves the city from the riddle of the Sphinx. This firmly establishes the idea that Oedipus is noble in his ancestry and by his own merit as it was his superior reason that allowed him to save Thebes. Oedipus’ virtues such as his sense of duty and empathy for his people becomes apparent early in the play. Oedipus reveals his sense of duty when he states that he would “do anything” to end the suffering of his people and that to not do so would be to “be blind to misery”, revealing his empathy towards his people (14). This presentation of virtues is

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