Oedipus Rex and Religion

Oedipus Rex and Religion
In the tragic play Oedipus Rex, the concept of religion greatly influences the social structure which in turn has a profound effect on the events that unfold throughout the play. Oedipus is the head of the state. There is a direct parallel in the demise of his household and city state which eventually comes to a full circle to destroy him. Even though Oedipus is praised by his people for being a responsible and honest king, he possesses a major character flaw in his attitude towards the gods which causes the tragic torture he faces in the end. Over the duration of the play, there is a strong sense of contamination towards the state, because it is facing a time of plague, and towards the leader Oedipus, because he is unknowingly in a relationship with his own mother. The cleansing of the state can only occur if the ruler, Oedipus, and his ignorant ways are put to rest. The state and the household are directly linked to Oedipus. His incestuous ways are the outcome of anger from the gods for being intelligent and because the leader of the state is plagued with such a flaw the state must suffer for the wronging of the leader. This sense of contamination ultimately leads the gods to cleanse the state, household, and Oedipus by revealing the flaw to everyone and Oedipus at the same time.
Oedipus learns through the revelation of the oracle that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. As a result, he is driven to the belief that he can control his own fate, and not leave it up to the gods. By doing this, Oedipus places himself into the category of a god. The gods, particularly Apollo, takes great offence to this and decides to put Oedipus back in his place by punishing him and his state. (Mannani 2005) The punishment of the state is a sense of rotting within the state; babies are being born dead, people are starving across the state. As king, Oedipus proclaims that he will end the famine by killing those who he believes are polluting the state. Teresias, a messenger of the foods, tells Oedipus he is the reason his state is in ruins. The people of the land are religious and live there lives according to what messengers and oracles tell them. For Oedipus religion is pushed aside and he believes more in himself. The city of the Thebes is also considered to be a scientifically advanced city and science rejects religion which is another great factor in the downfall of the city. These factors lead the state and the household of Oedipus into contamination which will only be cleansed by the gods and fate.

The king?s household and family are greatly affected by the religion in that there lack of believe in the gods has caused devastation within there lives. Iokaste, both Oedipus?s queen and mother, is a strong believer in the oracle. She does not want to believe that Oedipus is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Her believe in the idea that man can change his fate is challenged as she discovers that Oedipus is truly her son and he in fact killed his father 9 (i.e. her first husband). She is punished by the gods for being a disbeliever. Her punishment of becoming a disbeliever comes in the form of committing the sin of incest, which brings her form the top of the chain of being to the very bottom. The unbearable thought drives her to kill herself and leave her daughters motherless. The overall toll on the household is one where there is total destruction of the family name. The children will grow up as orphans and there lives at the bottom of the chain. The destruction of the family name will come with the death of the daughters who will grow up never to marry or have children. The demise of Oedipus and his family is a direct result of his disbelieve in the power of the gods over man.

Oedipus the main character and the tragic hero, is put through great torture and destruction by the gods because of his disbelieve in them. He goes from being king to becoming the lowest of all possible humans in the chain of being. Oedipus is a character whose knowledge is seen as a threat to the gods. He is the only person who is able to solve the riddle of the sphinx. He sees himself in alignment with the gods. This puts him in a position where he believes more in himself than he does in the gods. The gods take great offence when he tries to change his fate. (Mannani 2005) In order to put him back in his place, his fate stays with him wherever he goes. (Mannani 2005) In doing so, the gods insure that he kills his father, marries his mother and lives out his fate. (Mannani 2005) The later realization of his incestuous act destroys Oedipus and sends him into madness that drives him to gouge his own eyes out. His realization of his own contamination is revealed through the blood that spews from his eyes. (Mannani 2005) This blood cannot be cleansed by anyone but the gods and his religion.

In conclusion, Oedipus?s fate is his destruction in the chain of being, the ultimate cleansing of the state, the household, and himself. His rejection and persistence to ignore the power of the gods and religion is the cause for his great demise. Oedipus, a character too proud and knowledgeable, is seen as a threat to the gods. Any threat to the gods is sure to result in the destruction of the threat in order to restore the balance in the chain of being. The above discussion shows support of how religion greatly influenced the lives of people and society?s structure.

Oedipus Rex and Religion 7 of 10 on the basis of 1600 Review.