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Answer one of the essay questions below.
Your answer should focus on two of the principal texts covered in Weeks 2 to 5 of the unit. One of
these texts must be Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. The second text must be either Plato’s
“I stopped the Sphinx! With no help from the birds, the ﬂight of my own intelligence hit the mark.”
Describe and analyse how Oedipus and Socrates rely on their own intelligence when trying to
solve the puzzles with which they are presented. What implications does this self-reliance have
for the authority of traditional beliefs?
Oedipus and Socrates take their obligations to others seriously. How do we see responsibilities
to philoi (friends, kin, community) form part of an idea of acting well in Oedipus the King and the
Socratic dialogues you have studied this semester? Describe and analyse one or two key scenes
from your selected texts in your response.
Oedipus and Socrates rely on their own intelligence
Oedipus and Socrates used their intelligence even in the worst situation of their lives. They did not rely on anyone else but their own intelligence to come to know the truth. Oedipus got shocked and angry when he heard the truth of Laius’s death in ‘Oedipus the King’ by the blind prophet, Tiresias. The scene began with all the citizens requesting their king, Oedipus to find out some solution to get rid of the plague that has stricken Thebes. Oedipus vows to do anything to help the people and sends Creon to god Apollo to ask how it could be resolved. Creon comes back with a news that Thebes can be saved only when the killer of the old king, Laius is caught and expelled who is within the city. Oedipus has got no clue about the murderer but he decides to find him out at any cost. He first asks his citizen to tell him the truth if anyone is aware of but after being disappointed in there he takes the help of the prophet, Tiresias. The prophet initially refuses, to tell the truth, but gets provoked by the accusation of the murder by the king. When he reveals that Oedipus himself is the murderer, Oedipus accuses the prophet and Creon for conspiring against his life. But before going out of the scene, Tiresias throws the last riddle that the murderer of the Laius would be both father and brother to his own children and the son of his own wife.
At the one hand Oedipus’ intelligence solved the big mystery, Socrates’ intelligence made his question mysterious for Euthyphro in Plato’s Euthyphro. Socrates meets Euthyphro outside the court of Athens when he is called on charges of impiety by Meletus. Euthyphro came there to prosecute his father because he unintentionally became a murderer. In a vein to flatter Euthyphro, Socrates asks him what is holiness since he is ready to prosecute his father on charges, he must be expert in religious matters. Euthyphro says that he, of course, knows what holiness is and on Socrates’ request he first says that prosecuting offenders is holiness. Socrates finds himself dissatisfied and asks further when he hears that what is holy is agreeable to all gods. Socrates again does not find it satisfactory because gods themselves keep on fighting. Euthyphro further says that what is holy is approved of by all the gods. And thus he finds himself in more trouble by Socrates’ genius when Socrates has said that holiness is a kind of justice for looking after the gods. Socrates does not understand if gods need someone to take care of when they are the ones approving holy things. Euthyphro finally tells him that holiness is a kind of trading with the gods. We offer them sacrifices and they grant our prayers.
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