Home Forums Litterae Forum Oedipus Rex What does it mean to be a hero?

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Sean Mcpartlin 5 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #4384

    Socrates
    Keymaster

    What does it mean to be a hero?

    Oedipus, wretched though he is, is often considered to be an ancient hero. Does it matter what his intentions were? Or should he be judged only for his actions, that of destroying his family?

    #4478

    ClassicsFan
    Participant

    Well, if a hero is to display courage and bravery in the face of adversity, and even self-sacrifice… then I would count Oedipus as a Hero. He had to know the truth – even though it was his undoing. Surely that’s heroic?

    #4480

    ClassicsFan
    Participant

    Following the “Mythic Hero Archetype” – Oedipus displays MANY of the characteristics:

    2. Father is a king
    6. Attempt to kill hero as an infant, often by father or maternal grandfather
    8. Reared by foster parents in a far country
    9. No details of childhood
    10. Returns or goes to future kingdom
    11. Is victor over king, giant, dragon or beast (the Sphinx)
    13. Becomes king
    14. For a time he reigns uneventfully
    16. Later loses favor with gods or his subjects
    17. Driven from throne and city
    18. Meets with mysterious death
    19. Often at the top of a hill (Oedipus at Colonus)
    20. His children, if any, do not succeed him [i.e., does not found a dynasty] (Antigone and Seven against Thebes)
    21. His body is not buried

    #4488

    GeneSmalls
    Participant

    How can someone who killed their father and married their mother be a hero? No way!

    #4496

    Amanda Mulholland
    Participant

    He is a hero in the eyes of the society that created the myth. As ClassicsFan says, he has all of the attributes expected of a Greek hero. The fact that his end is so tragic is an acknowledgment that the gods are pernicious and the fate of even heroes is not guaranteed to be ideal. In fact, a tragic end seems to also be a necessary quality to be a hero. Jason and Herakles are two that lost their families through their own if unintentional, actions. So, for me, it’s yes. He is a hero. Not a title I personally would want!

    #4517

    Sean Mcpartlin
    Participant

    It all boils down to what is your own difinition of a hero? To some it is the valiant Achilles hunting for his perpetual “kleos” but to some it is brute dedication and authenticity.
    For me Achilles is a hero in his own right, but Oedipus is a true hero. All though his actions did not bring me to this conclusion, It was his mind. He saves the city of Thebes, abandons Corinth out of fear of killing his father and marrying his mother and once again saves Thebes from himself. He unknowingly murdered Laius and married Jocasta oblivious to their maternal relationship it is for that justification of his actions that his a hero.

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