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Know Thyself: Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King”

The famous saying “Know Thyself,” which is written on the temple at Delphi, is one of the main messages of the Sophocles’ play “Oedipus the King.” Taking into account the historical context, it is easy to explain the problem that appeared at the end of the fifth century. “Know Thyself” becomes not a trivial motto, but real folk wisdom of that time. The whole life and activity of Oedipus are aimed at knowing himself.

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The main character does not care about the challenges, tribulations, and other problems the acknowledgment may bring, he is ready to accept any truth and follow the destiny. “And yet I know this much – no disease no any other suffering can kill me…But whether my fate leads, just let it go” (Sophocles “Oedipus the King,” 1700). The first desire of the protagonist is not only to learn whose son, husband, or father you are, but to learn your abilities and willingness to follow your purpose.

On the other hand, Oedipus’ desire to know himself also leads to despair. He realizes the vanity of human efforts, limited knowledge we have, and inability to shape the future: “O generations of mortal men…What man is there, what human being, who attains greater happiness than mere appearances, a joy which seems to fade away to nothing?” (Sophocles “Oedipus the King,” 1423). The theme of knowing yourself and following your destiny is revealed from different points in the play. However, the conclusion remains the same: perfect knowledge leads to great suffering.

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StudyCorgi. "Know Thyself: Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King”." July 4, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/know-thyself-sophocles-oedipus-the-king/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Know Thyself: Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King”." July 4, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/know-thyself-sophocles-oedipus-the-king/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Know Thyself: Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King”'. 4 July.

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