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Prisoners of Free Will

Sophocles aesthetically states the conflict of free will and fate for Oedipus.

{?Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.? }Franklin D. Roosevelt

Men are not controlled by fate but by their minds, and their free will is responsible for everything that they do, for man controls his actions. Sophocles aesthetically states the conflict of free will and fate for Oedipus. Oedipus, during the whole play tries to escape truth; however, at one point he becomes a truth seeker. The prophecy from Apollo makes him leave Corinth and makes him a truth seeker that brings his doom.
Oedipus is a person of free will, who takes himself responsible for everything. Oedipus is destined from birth to someday marry his mother and kill his father. Oedipus leaves Corinth in order to escape the prophecy. He wanders to places for a period of time and then one day comes before this fork of roads. Here he could have chosen one upon the other but he takes the one approaching to Thebes; this is his choice.
O triple roads- it all comes back, the secret, dark ravine, and the oaks closing in where the three roads join...
(l. 1531-33)
In these lines Oedipus realizes that he should have never taken the road to Thebes. He could have chosen any other of those three roads. Then again this is what fate is.
Plus, the city of Thebes is under the terror of sphinx that wouldn?t allow anyone to get in or out of the city without answering its riddle. However, King Laius comes out of the city; at that moment no one knows the answer to the riddle. Since Oedipus is destined to kill his father and bed with his mother, he meets King Laius on the crossing roads and kills him. Then unfortunately he is brilliant enough to answer the sphinx riddle and get into Thebes. When there is an argument between Tiresias and Oedipus about the cause of plague Oedipus asks Tiresias:
When did you prove yourself a prophet?
When the sphinx, that chanting fury kept her deathwatch here,
(l. 444-45)
Oedipus questions him if he can foretell the future or predict things where he was when the city needed him; why couldn?t he solve the riddle of sphinx and saved the city. The reason for this is that Oedipus is fated to corrupt his family that?s why it has to be done from his hands; gods force him to answer the riddle and take a step forward to bring the prophecy to life. Even though he?s a person of free will, his free will caused his destruction.
Further more, his free will and compassion for his people brings curse on him. Oedipus could have waited for the plague to end or if he in fact wants to find the murderer, he could have investigated the murder of Laius calmly. On the contrary he gives an outstanding speech full of curses.
Now my curse on the murderer. Whoever he is,
a lone man unknown in his crime

I curse myself as well...if by any chance
he proves to be an intimate of our own house,

Oedipus doesn?t know who killed Laius, so prays the gods that who ever is the murderer must meet his worst fate. He also says that even if the person is of his family or someone who he knows may meet the same destiny. Oedipus unknowingly is calling that curse upon himself, for he is the one who slain Laius. This is his act of free will.
In addition to that Oedipus feels himself controlled by fate.
Cursed in my birth, cursed in marriage,
cursed in the lives I cut down with these hands!

In these two lines Oedipus truly thinks that he couldn?t do anything about the prophecy. He is cursed since he?s born in everything. He tries to escape the worst by running away from Corinth and outsmarting the gods, but he couldn?t. He always thinks that he is the one controlling his actions but it is fate controlling him.
Ultimately, Oedipus causes a reversal of fortune in his prosperous life. His search for truth brings his downfall. Tiresias asks Oedipus before leaving the palace does he even know who his parents are? Oedipus obviously doesn?t know who are his parents; his hunger for parents? love makes him anxious. A true conflict starts for Oedipus when he tries to seek the truth and that is what destroys him, even though, he has a chance to escape. Oedipus wants to punish the murderer as the gods wish. He asks Jocasta that how Laius died. Jocasta tells him that he was killed by a group of thieves at ?a place Phocis, where two branching roads,?come together.? (l.808-09) Oedipus should have satisfied himself with it that the prophecy isn?t coming true at all, for thieves murder Laius. However, Oedipus goes with free will and wants to be a truth seeker. He asks Jocasta to send for shephered , since he is the witness of the incident. The call for shephered brings the doom of the family. What brings it is the free will of Oedipus.
While send words for the shephered a messenger comes from Corinth and says that he has a news for Oedipus. He tells that Polybus is dead by the cause of natural death. Jocasta on this says :
You prophecies of the gods, where are you now
This is the man Oedipus feared for years,
He fled him, not to kill him-and now he?s dead,
Quite by chance, a normal, natural death,
Not murdered by his son.

Jocasta question gods that where is the fate now; Oedipus feared his father but now he?s dead. It is a good news for them. When Oedipus starts investigating about his birth parents from the messenger, Jocasta figures out the riddle and tells Oedipus:
Stop- in the name of god
If you love your own life, call off this search!
My suffering is enough.
She wants Oedipus to call off the search, for she knows that Oedipus is going to find out the truth and prophet?s prophecy will come true. She knows that he is going to end up in gouging out his eyes. Oedipus tells her ?Courage!? he wants to find out the truth. He could have all this from happening, and he couldn?t have been in exile. Then this is fate; he is to meet his end dreadfully. His free will and curiosity for truth cause this destruction.
Sophocles made Oedipus a character of free will, who finally admits that gods have power over him. Even after admitting the power of gods, he is still trapped between the bars of free will and fate. His search for truth brings his downfall. Oedipus, the King of riddles and a brilliant ruler couldn?t get himself out of the whirlpool of fate and free will. He hold himself responsible for the destruction of his family and disgrace that he has brought to his children, on the other hand he questions gods why is that they hate him?
Apollo, friends, Apollo-
He ordained my agonies-these, my pains on pains!
But the hand that struck my eyes was mine,

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