Oedipus as a Hero in “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles

From the beginning of the play, it is clear that Oedipus is a tragic hero, even though he is a wealthy man of great fame.

I believe that Sophocles did not intend to present Oedipus as a bad person; on the contrary, he strived to portray a person who could become a role model for coming generations. Oedipus, as a king, tried to do what is best for his city.

Oedipus, a person, put the interests of his family in the first place. Even though it might seem that the actions of Oedipus should be avoided from a logical standpoint, Sophocles skillfully twists his writing into a moral lesson. Oedipus killed his father and married his own mother. However, his actions are totally justified because he was unaware of the real situation. After he realizes the horror of his actions, Oedipus blinds himself because of his inability to live through the peripeteia. Oedipus is a hero to be admired. The fortune was not favorable to him; however, he could do nothing to escape his fate. He is a man who lost everything without being able to prevent such destiny. The reader feels fear and pity while reading the play.

Fear to experience the same fate and pity for the tragic events happening to Oedipus. Someone may believe that Oedipus is not a hero but an ordinary man who made a lot of errors. For example, today, everybody agrees that a lack of knowledge about the laws does not justify the criminal activity. This rule, however, cannot be applied to the actions of Oedipus. The murder of his own father and marriage to his mother is undoubtedly wrong. However, I tend to believe that he would commit neither if he was aware of the real situation.

What makes a heroic person? Different attributes and characteristics can be attributed to a hero. However, the most important one is living in accordance with the rules and trying to make the world better. Oedipus was a good person and a good king. He cared about his people and about his family. Unfortunately, he became the victim of circumstances. Even the fact that he blinded himself and got insane indicates that he was not indifferent about the events that took place in his life. He was touched by the murder of his father and the death of his mother/wife. He is a hero because he lived in accordance with the rules and promoted strong moral values. The tragic plot of the play contributes to the heroism of Oedipus. It seems that Sophocles wanted to depict Oedipus as good and superior, as a person who is ready to assume responsibility for his own actions. Oedipus could not change what was done, and it posed a dilemma he could not solve.

Leaving aside the murder and marriage, Oedipus was a hero because of his willingness to help people. He was a just and sympathetic king. When he was approached by the priests of Thebes with the quest for help, he did not push them away. On the contrary, he promised immediate help. Oedipus was intelligent, and his superiority is evident throughout the play.

He was superior, not due to being a king, but rather due to his desire to learn, to improve, to be a good king, and to be a good person.

The only characteristic which reduces the heroism of Oedipus was the complete lack of free will. Oedipus had no power over his own life, and it seems that all of the events were planned beforehand; he could not change anything. Nevertheless, despite all hardships, Oedipus never ignored the pleas for help, he never posed himself as superior to others (even though he was), and he was working hard to improve the living of his people.

Oedipus tried to do the best he could as a husband and as a king. He did not realize the significance of his own actions. However, he never refused to accept responsibility for what he has done. In summary, Oedipus is a person to admire because even though he had to overcome numerous hardships in his life, he never stopped being a good person willing to help his people and family.