Anything in Excess is negative Oedipus The King by Sophocles
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To go to far is as bad as to fall short. Confucius. Everything should be done in moderation and there should be a healthy equilibrium in all situations and aspects of life. Something taken too far is the equal to something not taken far enough; both concepts are flawed and cause confliction. These are the beliefs that the Greek gods held and also imposed on their people. Know thy self; nothing in excess was inscribed at Temple Apollo at Delphi in Ancient Greek. Temple Apollo is known to be the most sacred place in the Greek world. Oedipus the king of Thebes went against the word of the gods by doing many things in excess. He did this by having excessive pride and anger. Not only that he also he also held excessive power and control over the people and happenings surrounding him which led to his hubris. All of this overindulgence led to Oedipuss downfall as a leader, a son, a husband and a father. Had he displayed all of these qualities in moderation he might have been spared some of consequences that he sorrowfully faced in the end despite his best attempts to avoid living out the horrible prophecies that were chosen for him.
Some one once appropriately said Temper get you in trouble but pride keeps you there. What does this have to do with Oedipus? Well Pride is an attribute which Oedipus has in surplus. Another word for excessive pride is Hubris. It is well known and established that hubris is Oedipuss tragic flaw. Oedipus shows that he has a great sense pride and confidence concerning his abilities as a leader but when Theriases attempts to indicated to Oedipus that he is the one who murdered Lauis his real father, instead of seeing the honesty in Teiresiass words or considering both sides of the spectrum Oedipus thinks that Teiresias is his enemy and is making this accusations in an act of jealousy He says Ah, riches and royalty, and wit matched against wit In the race of life, must they always be mated with envy (Sophocles, 36). According to Greek Law Any person or thing that goes against the word of the gods or any sacred sayings would eventually face the wrath of the gods inevitably; doing this would restore the natural balance of things. In Oedipuss case the hubris is replaced by shame or remorse.
Despite all of this even towards the end of the play Oedipus is full of pride he displays this when he chooses his own punishment he decides that he must be banished. Furthermore, He decides he should no longer see; he blinds himself by stabbing his eyes. No matter whether he chose this or not its was the punishment that the gods and already chosen for him and maybe in the act of doing this he showed that he knew he had to lose his pride in order to set things right; he had to step down. Similarly Jocasta also has excess pride. She believes she is higher then the gods; when she thinks that she can the prophecy of the Sophocles by having only one child and handicapping via the act of binding his feet together and abandoning him. By committing this act she shows that in her view that she is more clever and powerful then the gods. She believes she can change what is destined to happen by the gods. Perhaps the gods knew the temperament of the beings that they created there fore they wrote for things to happen in the way they did so in the end things would balance themselves out once again; restoring the natural order of things.
It has already been established that it is Oedipuss temper that gets him into trouble in many occasions. When Oedipus is angry he commits many crimes unknowingly. He killed his father unintentionally over the most nominal thing; someone pushed him out of the way and he struck them and killed everyone else that was there. He tells the story himself to Jocasta I came to the place where three roads join, I met a herald followed by a horse drawn carriage, and a man seated therein, just as you have described.
The leader roughly ordered me out of the way; and his venerable master joined in with a surly command. It was the driver that thrust me aside, and him I struck, for I was angry. The old man saw it leaning from the carriage, Waited until I passed, then seizing for weapon The drivers tow prolonged goad, struck me on the head He paid with interest for his temerity; quick as lightning, the staff in his right hand did its work; he tumbled headlong out of the carriage, and every man of them there I killed (Sophocles, 48). In his excess of anger he fails to see what is blatantly placed in front of him and he ceases to use his brain or any rationale he commits acts in haste and has little to know patience for any reasoning. He strikes the man at the carriage for little or no reason which he does not know yet is his father; he has a murderous temperament.
He dismisses Teiresias without ever giving him a chance to openly say what he wants too. He does not let Teiresias finish what hes saying because he gets too angry too fast with out even listening to everything with an open mind he jumps to conclusions and does not use or listen to any reasoning. When Teiresias calls him the cursed polluter of the land Oedipus immediately becomes enraged and tries to silence him at once with threats You are say it! Have you no shame at all? And do you expect to escape the consequence? (Sophocles, 35). Instead, if he had questioned Teiresias about what he meant by that statement or asked him for evidence. By having control over his anger Oedipus could have been knowledgeable to the truth sooner.
Charles A. Beard wrote that Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power. This can be seen as quite true if one takes into account the fact that Oedipus never asked for the position of king, it was given to him by the gods, perhaps they did this intentionally as well as purposefully just so when he realizes the truth he falls from a higher place (as king) and the fall is more painful; he pays with more remorse for his sins. He has fallen from grace; in the eyes of his people. This is possibly the price he pays for trying to escape the prophecy. Having too much power and control leads Oedipus to become arrogant and blind to anyones reasoning or any signs that point towards his biggest truth; he killed his father and married his mother.
Every time Theriases tries to hint the truth to Oedipus I know, as you do not, that you are living/in a sinful union with the one you love/living in ignorance of your own undoing( Sophocles, 36). He reacts with anger and brings forth the fact that he saved Thebes from disaster and was loved and admired by all Thebans including the elders. He does not believe that he could be capable of such deeds. And every time some doubt fills his heart his new powerful position forces him to quickly push those thoughts away. He becomes over confident after all this power was and position was offered to him by the gods he did not ask for it; it was a gift or a reward for his good deeds.
A person who smokes, or goes out into the sun too often with out protection takes the risk of developing cancer. Everyone eats food; thats how we get energy to function. Eating to much can lead to obesity. Obesity can prevent us from performing many normal tasks to best of our capabilities further more; it can even lead to death. Similarly we all get angry now and then, we all feel proud of our accomplishments and feel that we are worthy of respect and admiration and we all at one point or another have had authority over someone or something else. Yet the point is to enjoy these aspects of life rather then to take these which we things we enjoy to an extreme where they begin to control our lives and actions.
That is was consequently happened to Oedipus; everything that he did he did it to such an extreme that it became detrimental to him rather and no longer brought him happiness or peace. Had he not been so proud, and thought so high and mighty of himself he could have possibly repented for his misdeeds which truthfully he committed unknowingly and in haste without ruining his life and being sent into exile. In the end though everything that Oedipus did in excess is put back into balance by Oedipuss position being taken from him and him being banished. Later he was awarded and it was said that whatever land Oedipus was to be buried in would be bountiful and blessed. The people of Thebes asked him to return but he refused, perhaps not thinking himself worthy.