Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Fate in Greek Tragedies

This was my mid-term paper for my Drama and Poetry class last semester at college. I recieved a B.Ignore the non-indentions...I still have yet to figure out how to do that. Please DO NOT take my work, I worked very hard on this paper.

Heather Barger

Intro to Drama and Poetry

Mrs. Dea

Fate in Greek Tragedies

Fate, everyone’s heard that word. We see it in many plays and famous stories. The most famous plays and stories where fate is placed into the plot are Greek tragedies. Agamemnon, Oedipus, and Medea are three Greek plays in which fate is a finalizing factor to the causes that led up to the tragic endings.
In Agamemnon, Fate would have it that Agamemnon would die a tragic death, by the person he suspected the least. A brave hero would not live to bask in his glory. Fate began her role long before Agamemnon returned home from the Trojan War. It was Fate, in fact that helped Agamemnon return home, keeping him safe throughout the entire 10 year war. While that may have seemed kind, Fate had an underlying motive to get Agamemnon home. To allow his wife revenge for his sacrificing their daughter to Artemis so he and the soldiers could go off to war, and to allow his wife’s lover to get revenge on Agamemnon for the murder of Aegisthus’ brothers by Agamemnon’s father.
Fate kept Agamemnon alive, just to return home to be killed. Fate, it seems, has a sense of irony. Cassandra, Agamemnon’s slave, warns him that if he returns home, he will be killed. Fate, thanks to Apollo, made it so no one would believe Cassandra’s predictions.
Fate had set the stage for a tragic ending. Agamemnon returns home, a hero, only to be murdered in the bath by his wife and her lover.
In Oedipus, Fate is a bit more apparent. From the beginning of the play, Fate is seen as a constant determining factor that leads to the tragic end, leading to Oedipus’s wife/mother’s suicide, four children begotten by incest and the gorging out of his own eyes.
The Oracle of Delphi predicted that King Laius’ son would murder his father and marry his mother. Laius, not wanting such a curse to fall upon his house, tried to avoid Fate, and put his newborn son at the mercy of the elements. But Fate, not intending to be thwarted, led a shepherd to find the abandoned infant before it could die. The shepherd gave the baby to a traveler, who was the king of Corinth, to raise the infant.
Years later, Oedipus, goes to the Oracle of Delphi and receives the same prophesy that King Laius received many years before. In Oedipus’ attempt to avoid Fate, he leaves the only home he’s ever known, and flees the family, and parents, he loves. He attempts to flee from this horrible end, to avoid the prophesy that is horrible in itself.
But once again, Fate loves irony, and on Oedipus’ way to Thebes, his real birth-place, he unwittingly kills his father, King Laius. when he reaches Thebes, he rids the towns of a curse, and since the kingdom is kingless, they chose Oedipus to assume the throne, so he marries the Queen. . .his real mother. Years later the town falls victim to a horrible plague, and according to the priest, it is because there is a murderer amongst them.
Oedipus, determined to find the murderer and punish him, follows a trail that at each new step, seems to point to Oedipus as the murderer, and does ultimately show Oedipus that even though he tried to avoid his fate, he had ended up fulfilling the prophesy in his attempt to flee from Fate.
So, as Fate brings about the end that was meant to be, it leaves a Queen dead, and Oedipus gorging out his own eyes, and leaves him with four children, brought about by incest.
In Medea, Fate has played a part, once again, from the very beginning. In Medea, Fate will have it so that a father will lose his sons, and his bride-to-be.
Medea, helped Jason pass the tests that the king, with her knowledge of magicks. Fate had her fall in love with him, to help him out. She murdered her brother, and abandoned her homeland to follow Jason to Greece, and married him, and gave him two sons.
But Fate, always being the one to hit when no one expects, took a nasty turn, and had Jason fall in love with the king’s daughter, and he planed to marry her as well. Medea went nuts, she threatened to kill the king’s daughter, she didn’t want to look at her own children and thought to kill them, just to get revenge on Jason.
Three women of Greece come to give comfort to their adopted citizen, to try and convince her if she would only openly discuss her troubles, it would certainly make them seem lighter. They also try to explain to the maddened Medea that according to Grecian law, it is valid for a husband to have more than one wife, and means no injustice to thefirst wife in doing so.
Creon, the king of Greece, fearful for his daughter’s life, banishes Medea and her young sons from the land of Greece. But Medea, pleading for the rest of the day to gather some provisions for herself and her sons. Against Creon’s better judgment, he allows her to stay, thinking she can cause no harm in one day. Fate would prove him wrong.
Being the sly, jealous person that she is, Medea has already thought up a plan to rid herself of Jason’s bride-to-be. She is a mistress of poisons, so she laces a gold crown and stately robe with poison and sends it as a gift to the princess via her two sons. As the gift is being sent, she argues with herself over weather she should kill her own children. She can chose to leave her sons in Greece with her husband, or she can kill them.
Jason, knowing nothing of his first wife’s plans to do away with his bride-to-be, or her malicious thoughts about killing her sons, he pleads with the king to let his children stay in Greece with him, so that when his new wife bears him children, his two sons will have other royal playmates. The king relents and tell Jason his sons may stay, but he will do nothing about it until after the wedding.
While Medea waits for the princess to die, she struggles with herself over what will be the fate of her children. But it is already decided, weather she knows it or not. When a messenger comes to tell of the death of both the princess and the king, then the fate of the children are sealed. Feeling as though she cannot leave her children with their grieving, and angry father, nor can she bear to look upon the offspring of the man who betrayed her, she ushers the children inside and stabs them with a sword.
Jason arrives too late to save his children. Grieved to hear of the loss of his two sons, he tears open the doors of the building, only to find Medea has flown away in a chariot drawn by dragons. As she flies away, she and Jason exchange curses on one another.
So once again, Fate it seems cannot be avoided in Greek tragedy. The characters, no matter what they do, cannot escape their destiny. In these three plays, written by three completely different arthors, it is seen that Fate is the true and deciding factor, from the beginning to the end. In Agamemnon, Oedipus, and Medea, Fate is seen as the driving force, and the ultimate controller of people’s lives, even when they do everything in their power to avoid prophesy, destiny, and even Fate herself.

Copyright Heather Barger

Fly Me Home