We’ve talked a lot this semester about the idea of “fate,” comparing it to religious determinism (God has a plan) and to the rationalist’s or humanist’s notion of free will (Oedipus “deserved” his fate, because . . .) Write an essay on the differences between the various concepts of fate (including classical Greek [or Roman], Christian, Hindu and Buddhist fate) we’ve encountered in our readings here. You must use characters from at least 4 (four) of the “heroic” readings to illustrate your point(s) regarding FATE.  


The classical tragedians including classical Greek, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist fate happened to appreciate the conflict between free will as well as fate. Amidst every tragedy their lay the struggle between the inclination of a human being to accomplish more and the desire to be the master of his or her fate and the inevitable truth as well as inclination to accept the relativity of fate in the most absolute sense. Virgil, Shakespeare and Sophocles as well as other classical writers would agree that the power of choice and the force of destiny tend to control the human life continually.

For the tragedian writer, Sophocles, fate tends to take over the will of a human being as the harder someone tries to avoid the inevitability of fate; the more difficult it gets for the individual to resist his or her fate. This is why almost all the characters in Sophocles’ plays tend to signify pride of changing destiny through human will as the downfall of an individual. The themes of resistance, recognition and reversal can be seen in the characters within classical plays. For example, Hamlet, remains aware of his own weaknesses as well as shortcomings and feels powerless in making those shortcomings and weaknesses right which he feels are the main aspects wrong in his life. Through intellectual maneuvering, Hamlet aims to alter his fate and sees clearly the consequences his choices will have. Hamlet is considered to be a Shakespearean hero who is bound within himself, as he has been born to high status but not power. The idea of fate is depicted in Hamlet as that of conflict in which God asks Hamlet one thing while he wants to peruse something else.

Oedipus, however, is one character among the long list of characters in classical tragic literature who stands on the mercy of gods and learns from the oracle about his faith. By knowing about his faith, Oedipus has fallen prey to his win fate and the irony is that his destiny prevails despite his efforts. This is because he feels proud after people choose him as their leader which is why he blindly fulfills the fate and prophecy by choosing to be the king and marrying Jocasta. Oedipus accepts his fate at the end and states that, “Oh God! It has come true. Light let this be the last time I see you.” This means that he accepted his destiny unlike Christian heroes in tragedy who have numerous other things motivating them.

When it comes to Greek tragedy, it can be seen that the characters who are influenced by fate happen to have a necessity of action surrounding them. For example, Oedipus displays no individuality but the whole point of the play is to uncover the hidden motivations of Oedipus while witnessing the power of fate. Furthermore, Fate as well as the concept of destiny in the Odyssey and the Aeneid is centered on the idea of duty. This is because Odysseus and Aeneus find themselves torn between duty and fate. This is because a single question revolves around Odysseus and Aeneus which is: if fate is already written and set within stone then should Odysseus and Aeneus fulfill their duty to their destiny or hope to create a fate of their own? Odysseus and Aeneus. However, it is noticeable that Odysseus and Aeneus have certain cultural as well as philosophical differences which places huge emphasis on how they reacted to the idea of fate in the play. The Greeks placed emphasis more on the worldly pleasures and pursuits which is why Odysseus naturally a war hero will have to return home eventually.

The Romans, on the other hand, emphasized heavily on Roman values which is why Aeneus is dutiful to the core as the god’s interfere in his journey for either fulfilment of fate or for personal gain. Odysseus wants to return home, however is a subjected to ill fate by the gods and Aeneus wants to fulfill his obligation which is a driving force behind Aeneus realizing his fate. The role and cultural differences of different tribes offer clear representation of people. As in the case of Odysseus and Aeneus, the idea of morality forms the basis of behavior and attitude in Greeks that has shown a clear example of worldly pleasure. The Greek disaster illustrates the role of Odysseus when it appears as moving on the way of God and how the fate is affected by destined events and a need of activity has encompassed them.


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