Fate Quotes in Oedipus Rex

Fate Quotes in Oedipus Rex
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  • 0:04 Definition of Fate
  • 0:35 Plot of 'Oedipus Rex'
  • 1:05 The Fate of Death
  • 1:25 The Fates
  • 2:15 Fate Used in Irony
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Noorda
This lesson talks about fate in the Greek play 'Oedipus Rex' by Sophocles. In particular, there are three quotes about fate and the Fates from the play that the lesson discusses.

Definition of Fate

What if there was something that had full power over your future? Fate is the idea, in literature and sometimes common language, of an invisible power that controls the future. Fate was an important concept to the ancient Greeks, something that they believed in strongly. In Greek mythology there were even three women, called 'the Fates', who controlled the lives of mortal men and women by influencing the future. Because the ancient Greeks believed so strongly in the influence of fate, it is central to the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex.

Plot of Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. It is the story of the king of Thebes, Oedipus, who kills his father and marries his mother without knowing it. When a plague comes to Thebes, Oedipus discovers that finding who killed the previous king, Laius, will remove the plague. But in the end, Oedipus finds that he was the one who killed Laius and that Laius is his father. Oedipus blinds himself and is exiled from Thebes. Fate is what drives the story of Oedipus, and it is fate that will be discussed in this lesson.

The Fate of Death


The first quote we will discuss about fate is from King Oedipus who, in talking about Laius, calls Laius's death the time when 'Laius met his fate' while traveling. 'Meeting' one's fate is often used in literature to mean someone died, like saying 'met his maker'.

The Fates

Another quote about fate in Oedipus Rex is from the chorus of Theban elders. In this quote, the chorus talks about Laius's killer, calling him the 'doer of foul deeds of bloodshed, horrors that no tongue can tell. A foot for flight he needs fleeter than storm-swift steeds, for on his heels doth follow, armed with the lightnings of his Sire, Apollo.' They are saying that the killer of Laius is closely followed by Apollo, who brings death.

The final words of this quote from the chorus are: 'Like sleuth-hounds too the Fates pursue.' This means that the chorus is saying the Fates of Greek mythology, the three women who can determine whether a person lives or dies, are pursuing the person who killed Laius. The killer cannot hide from fate, that power that controls the future.

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