Tragic Fate Of Greek Heroes The Tragic Fate of Greek Heroes Jason Runyon History 300 The Tragic Fate of Greek Heroes The hero stands as an archetype of who we should be and who we wish to be. However, the hero has inherent flaws, which we do not wish to strive towards. In literature, these flaws are not used as examples of what we should be but rather as examples of what not to be. This is especially dominant in the Greek hero. The Greek hero battles fate with excessive pride and intelligence, yet follows his fate, making serious mistakes. The Greek hero is strong and mighty while his wit and intelligence are highly valued.
In Greek tragedy, the hero struggles to avoid many flaws. Among these flaws are ambition, foolishness, stubbornness, and hubris, the excessive component of pride. He must overcome his predestined fate, which is futile to do. From the beginning of the tale, it is already clear that the hero will ultimately fail with the only way out being death. In Oedipus, the hero is confronted with a load of information about his family and gouges his eyes out.
He tried to outwit his fate he had already lost and was sentenced to death. In Antigone, her act resulted in her death, but she had the consolation that the deities agreed with her. The Greek hero is so normal, that you can relate to him. He is usually a common human being with no extraordinary life. His story seems believable, even possible.
We would have no hard time imagining the hero’s conflict as being ours. As in the case with Oedipus, you can understand how he feels it would be possible for his circumstances to be applied to our lives. Although the details may seem a little farfetched, it is not impossible that there is some truth to the story. Where Oedipus was strong and perhaps blind to many truths, Antigone was a fighter who yielded to the pressure of the truths and eventually killed herself. Oedipus was strong and ignorant, where Antigone was passionate and destroyed by the recognition of the truth. The Greek hero is more of a thinker than a violent individual.
He tries to outwit everyone including his fate. He has a high level of hubris. This is exactly the cause of his death making his fight nearly pointless. Oedipus deals with the human struggle for knowledge, first for knowledge of the evil, but ultimately for self-knowledge. Despite the advice of others, Oedipus remains with his illusion, he must find the truth even if it will destroy him.
Oedipus is a tragic hero according to Aristotle’s Conception in The Poetics. He is not the victim of fate expressed in the oracles. His tragedy results from within his character. He sees things only his way, and driven by his uncontrolled emotions, ends up dead. The tragic hero yearns to believe that there is purpose to his actions, yet many of his actions lead to pain and disaster.
He evolves thinking about right and wrong or good and evil, believing that these come to him as divine revelations. Yet he often discovers that his morality produces immoral results, and his good is often evil. It is common to all characters in a tragic situation that they are confronted with a choice. “Choice is at the heart of tragedy”. This choice may be taken without much consideration, it may be taken deliberately but in ignorance of the whole truth (Oedipus) and it may also be taken because it is imperative (Antigone).
Greek tragedy, then, is an expression of man realizing that his human standards have become questionable. Sophocles’ Antigone and Oedipus make a commentary upon the ideals of Greek humanism, specifically the individual’s responsibility in society and morality. Both Antigone and Oedipus make several moral choices and suffer the consequences. In the case of Antigone, her choice to bury her brother is not a fatal mistake that results in her death. It is a brave act that upholds a moral right in the face of capricious human justice. She also distanced everyone who is close to her making it easier for her to go through her difficult experience.
This is something noble. Likewise, Oedipus is not condemned to suffer by fate. He continues to make choices, which do not turn out. His final blinding was not demanded by fate, it was an admission that he could not fight fate blinded as he had been. Now his vision was opened to his inner soul and progress could be made. Ultimately everyone must rise above the suffering that is inevitable. In “Antigone”, Creon may also be considered that of a tragic figure as well. There are many similarities between Creon and Antigone.
Perhaps the most common characteristic is that both characters are very stubborn. Neither one can back down once the lines have been drawn, even though it means certain destruction. Creon shows many heroic characteristics. A hero is a person who must survive many downfalls, and Creon has suffered many setbacks. He is obviously not entirely good or just, and he does make mistakes. His greatest error is issuing the decree forbidding anyone from giving Polynices a proper funeral.
However, he does not do this entirely out of spite or anger, but instead to protect his country. Drawing conclusions as to the true nature of Greek tragedy. As has been seen, the dramas time and again show a mortal will, engaged in an unequal struggle with destiny, whether that destiny be represented by the forces within or without the mind. The conflict reaches its tragic issue when the individual perishes. The tragic issue, the defeat of the individual, leads to the realization that human presumption to determine one’s destiny is necessarily ruinous.
Greek tragedy, then, deals with the most fundamental issue that exists at all: man’s relationship to the gods. The underlying question of all these dramas concerns the laws and standards by which the gods let man live. It is the paradox of tragedy that it will never yield any definite answers. The only result in each drama is one’s awareness of the unreliability and deceptiveness of human reason, the realization that the true shape of things cannot always be judged by their surface appearance, the experience that man’s view and insight can be clouded over by daemonic forces: in short, the experience of the nothingness of man. History.