” A man who is highly renowned and prosperous, but one who is not pre-eminently virtuous and just,whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and/or depravity, but by some error ofjudgment or frailty.” – AristotleIn Sophocles Oedipus The King, Oedipus, the main character who kills his father and marrieshis mother, undoubtedly qualifies as a tragic hero. According to Aristotles definition, a tragic heromust be “highly renowned and prosperous.” Oedipus was the King of Thebes and was highlyrenowned for solving the riddle of the Sphinx and killing the monster. A victim of fate vilified by all,he discovers his own downfall and rips out his eyes in self-punishment.
This is castration for hisincestuous sin.One of Oedipus key flaws lies in his will to know-and thereby, to control all reality. Oedipusknowledge and determination help him intellectually with solving mysteries – like the riddle of theSphinx – but lead him ultimately to his tragic downfall. The petition of the chorus that opens Oedipusthe King attests to Oedipus responsible leadership. He has been a good king for Thebes, and when introuble is forthright to saving his city, but in his excitement and energy, Oedipus has no discretion.When, for example, Creon wisely hints that they should discuss the prophecy from the oracle inprivate, Oedipus refuses, insisting that every action related to freeing corruption from the city must bepublic.
In his path to follow his will with an intellectual passion, Oedipus listens to no one andis convinced he is doing nothing but good. His dynamic drive to solve the mystery and perform thisintellectual feat in front of all his people end in horror, as he finally discovers that the murderer is noone but himself. By this total error of judgment and blindness Oedipus makes himself a tragic hero.To the chorus, Oedipus explains his blinding as his mournful inability ever to look upon his loved onesagain, but the violence also represents his attack on that part of him that cannot stop seeking out andfinding what is hidden, despite the fateful consequences.