He prided himself on being a king that put the needs of his people above his own, struggling to keep his own feelings under wrap and focus instead on what his people needed. This desire to help the people led him to seek a cure for the plague, which was destroying people in masses. He sent Creon to Delphi, Apollos place of revelation, to find out what could be done to save the city. Creon was told that the state must avenge the death of the former king Laios. After doing a little sould-searching, Oedipus learns that he was the killer of Laios, who was his father.
Oedipus takes full responsibility for the crime. “Citizens and alien alike must never shelter me or speak to me,” he said. “I must be shunned by all. And I myself pronounced this malediction upon myself” (Sophocles, 42).
Like Socrates, Oedipus is visited by a friend in prison, who urges him to consider escape. His desire to protect his citizens and obey the laws prevents him from doing so. In the story, he is executed, reaching his goal to save his people from the plague.
While the two stories are very different in plot, there are many similarities. Both men have a similar outlook on truth and loyalty, and both are essentially good men. They suffer similar struggles in life and similar outcomes in death.
The stories are very powerful, as they show incredible strength and conviction in the two characters. However, the authors of the stories used these characteristics to paint Socrates and Oedipus as tragic men because their beliefs ended in death.
Both characters stories raise important questions on the nature of moral choices and the outcome of actions that are believed to be just. If the men had not been so steadfast in their morality and quest for goodness and truth, both would have lived longer lives. But these were men who were unable to go along with the crowd and do things just because everyone else was doing them. Rather, they spend a lot of time thinking about their actions and plotting careful moves that they felt would have some positive contribution on society. Unfortunately, there were not many like them during those time and their actions were met with anger and outrage. As a result, both men died for the good of their states.
Grube, G. (2002). Plato, Five Dialogues. Hackett Publishing Company.
Kaufmann, Walter. (1992). Tragedy and Philosophy. Princeton University Press.
T.C. Brickhouse and N.D. Smith (1989). Socrates on.