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    Guilt and Innocence in Sophocles' Oedipus

    Number of Pages: 5


    Summary of the research paper:

    In five pages this essay discusses the innocence and guilt viewpoints represented in Sophocles' tragedy. There is no bibliography provided.

    Name of Research Paper File: D0_khoedart.doc

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    - properly! Sophocles tale of horror and tragedy, which is the story of Oedipus the King, was  penned several thousand years ago, yet the moral complexity of this ancient Greek play is such that scholars are still debating the guilt, or innocence, of the protagonist. The following  discussion examines several different viewpoints, illustrating that there can be greatly divergent perspectives on the complicity of Oedipus in meeting his fate. However, an analysis of these perspectives shows that  those favoring Oedipus guilt make the most sense. J.T. Sheppard sides with those who protest Oedipus innocence. Sheppard states that the enlightened man of Sophocles era, as would "an  enlightened man of our own day," believe that the "ignorance of Oedipus absolves him from all blame" (191-192). While Sheppard upholds Oedipus innocence, he also grants that it was "natural  and right" for Oedipus to feel terrible remorse when he learned the truth, experiencing an instinctive sense of shame and anguish (192). Sheppard is referring, of course, to the fact  that Oedipus committed his grievous sins of patricide and incest in ignorance, not knowing the true identities of his biological mother and father. As Sheppard explores the ramifications of  Oedipus innocence, his argument draws in aspects of how the Greeks regarded the nature of the gods. Prior to the "enlightenment" period in Greek history, it appears that the Greeks  regarded their gods as responsible for doing evil in the world as for doing good. In other words, the capricious way that life can bestow either fortune or disaster was  seen as a direct result of divine intervention. Therefore, Sheppard argues that poets "who died before the great enlightenment...It was quite possible for a Greek to believe that certain conduct 

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