I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Oedipus Rex. Honestly, the poor man didn’t have a chance since he was conceived. The big question, the main theme of the ancient Anthenian tragedy: Can you outrun your destiny?
They tried. King Laius bound the feet of his infant son and asked his wife to kill him after an oracle foretold he would die by his son’s hand. Mom couldn’t do it and asked someone else to carry out the deed. The poor shepherd couldn’t do it either and simply placed the infant on top of a mountain to die from exposure. Then destiny intervened.
Another shepherd found our distressed infant, saved him and took him home where he was adopted by their king. And wouldn’t you know it, when you think destiny is thwarted, it rears its ugly head to prod everyone back in place. Oedipus learned from an oracle his awful destiny and fled his adopted land, set to thwart the awful tragedy. On the road he met, quarreled and killed a man. His father. Did he know? No. Did it matter? A great deal.
He continued his quest to safeguard his parents, arriving in a new kingdom where a terrible curse had befallen. After he successfully answered the riddle posed by the Sphinx, the curse was broken and he was rewarded for his cunning and bravery. His reward; the hand of the queen and the title of king. Did he know the queen was his biological mother? No. Did it matter? You betcha.
The thing that has always driven me insane about this story, and is currently keeping me up at night, is how it all happened. It wasn’t destiny. Not really. So what if it was prophesized? The only reason it happened was because the characters tried so hard to thwart fate. The choices made by everyone in the play ensured the outcome they were trying to prevent. If King Laius dismissed the claims as pure rubbish from the get go, the tragedy might never have occurred. If Oedipus had been secured in his role, happy with life and not asked for answers, he wouldn’t have known let alone tried to prevent it. No, the tragedy is one of choices, all the wrong choices.
Maybe the Greeks had it right. Count no man happy until he is dead.