Jocasta's Fatalistic Ethic
Keywords:Stoicism, Epicureanism, Jocasta, Greek tragedy, Greek drama, Greek philosophy
The structure of Oedipus Tyrannus is the most perfect, the most successful and at the same time the simplest of the dramatic types used by Sophocles (Kirkwood). Although the structural focus is on the single figure of Oedipus, the minor characters - first and foremost Jocasta - are also allowed to utter ethical ideas of the utmost importance to the main theme of the tragedy. While the role of Jocasta itself is a secondary one, her passive attitude and fatalistic credo, set in striking contrast to Oedipus' firm determination to act and thus bring relief to the plague-stricken Thebes, express one of the most important ideas of the play. There are some striking similarities between her words and the ethical principles of the most prominent Hellenistic philosophies, i. e. (late) Stoicism and Epicureanism, as well as those of Martin Heidegger's and his followers' thought. All these systems of ethics, each in its own way, are based on a reduced concept of' humanity, and the same is true of Jocasta's reasoning. This paper attempts to show that all the above-mentioned fatalistic attitudes are to be attributed to an inability to face the tragic reality of life.
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