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Hubris and Human Fallibility

You might have heard of me. I am Oedipus, the illustrious solver of riddles who later become the king of Thebes. Yet, despite my greatness and intelligence, I had not solved the riddle of my own fate. Although I hailed myself as the valiant protector of Thebes, my fate was definitely not my own to control. My self-congratulatory disposition marked me for monstrous misfortunes like the skewer that pinned my feet. It was what they call hubris that determined my own downfall.

In my story, you could see how hubris transformed to become a challenge to the gods, in which they could punish us humans because of our susceptibility to become overly proud of our achievements. The commonest form of hubris is not just the boast or the challenge that cannot be made good, it could also be the vanity that demands praise because it is self-distrustful and the very extravagance of language of any hero in a certain story. True enough, in my tragedy, you could see me displaying my obvious human flaws bringing to my own destruction by vowing that I will uncover the sin that lay the curse on my city.

As a result of my arrogance, I never considered that my own deeds might have brought down the ill fate on my people, and the revelations that I did not only slaughtered my father Laius but sired children to my own mother Jocasta. My birth parents, Lauis and Jocasta, had considered themselves astutely wiser than the gods. They connived a plan to avoid the fate that was to be bestowed upon our family. They ordered their loyal shepherd to take me to Kithairon and leave me there to die in the wilderness.

My feet were pinned together with a skewer to ensure my death, but the shepherd’s moral judgment prevailed. Unbeknownst to my real father, the shepherd released me and handed me over to a fellow shepherd to safeguard and take me far away from my condemners. My adoptive parents loved and raised me as their own kin. Yet, they concealed this sordid tale from me. In my story, you might have known that I displayed virtuousness, as I became honored as a great king by my subordinates and by the chorus. Although considered a hero, I fell short because of my arrogance.

I fell from the height of virtue once I received more and more information concerning my true identity and parenthood. My insecurity and resolve for the truth led me to the oracle at Delphi for answers but what I received was not what I had envisioned. I employed a hereditary trait and censored the evil sung by the oracle and eradicated myself from the parents I believed were mine. I ran away and placed my destiny in my own hands or so I thought, in truth this action of defiance propelled me towards the fruition of my fate; to murder my father, lie with my mother and sire my siblings.

In my travels I crossed paths with an arrogant older man and his henchmen who tried to force me off the road. His insolence to my being and safety was met with the vengeful tip of my blade which I plunged with hateful force through his heart. My rage would not subside until they were all dead except for the one who got away. Again, this incident was unfavorably judged by the gods and marked my inevitably surrender to larger forces beyond my control. I was then blinded by the things I did and was able to do.

I was transported from being a wanderer to become the king of Thebes, a husband to the widowed queen and father to sons and daughters. But beyond all the greatness and splendour, I still did not solve the riddle about my true identity. In my story, no evil is left unpunished and no order is left unrestored. Although the evil deeds done by my mother and I are deeds done out of ignorance, we still must be punished. My mother Jocasta hanged herself and I clawed my eyes out and then I announced the deeds had committed to the entire city. Thus, the Messenger tells the Chorus what I had planned to do:

Messenger: From the deeds of both ills have broken forth not on one alone, but with mingled woe for man and wife. The old happiness of their ancestral fortune was aforetime happiness indeed; but today lamentation, ruin, death, shame, all earthly ills that can be named, all, all are theirs. … He is crying for someone to unbar the gates and show to all the Cadmeans his father’s slayer, his mother’s –the unholy word must not pass my lips- as intending to cast himself out of the land and abide no more to make the house accursed under his own curse (1280-1290).

Overpowered by shame and frustration, my mother and I have punished ourselves for our sins and I kept my promise to catch and bring to justice the killer of my father Laius, even though it turned out that it was me. I have to be cast out of the city as punishment for my deeds and will be punished by the state as well by my own hands and shame. As you well see, this was how I became the author my unfortunate destiny. Indeed, my story emanated universal truths that truly make it both a tragedy and a legend.

Readers will learn a lesson about the fallibility of being mortals and our inability to control destiny: Insolence breeds the tyrant; Insolence, once vainly surfeited on wealth that is not meet nor good for it, when it hath scaled the topmost ramparts, is hurled to a dire doom, wherein no service of the feet can serve (870). My statement signifies the basic truth that mortals like us face each day, that no matter what material gains one pursues or attains, in the end it can all be taken away by circumstance, fate and whatever mysterious higher power rules one’s life.

Often it is our pride that causes us to ignore and defy the Gods to lead us to our own downfall. My story gives you a chance to examine the world in a new light. It invokes reflection about one’s place in the universe, and shines light on the mystery that rules us all. That no matter what our standing in society is, whether a king, a farmer or a pauper, in the grand scheme of things, we are all equal in our insignificance and helplessness to our eventual fate.

In real life, any man who denies himself the ability to fail; denies himself the benefits of failure such as learning where one’s own limits lie and what strategies tend to fail.

Works Cited

Hubris. Encyclop? dia Britannica, 2006. Encyclop? dia Britannica Online. 22 May 2006 <http://www. search. eb. com/eb/article-9041378>. Sophocles. The Tragedies: Oedipus the King. Online Library of Liberty, 22 May 2006 <http://oll. libertyfund. org/Home3/HTML. php? recordID=0561>

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