For my culture report I chose the plays Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Oedipus and Caesar have some very striking similarities as well as some other minor characters. However, even though they are similar, these two controversial characters have some stark differences as well. Oedipus and Caesar were very beloved political figures but also very complicated and frustrating individuals.
These two major plays have some remarkable similarities. In both plays Oedipus and Caesar both became king/emperor because of their popularity with the people of Thebes/Rome. Both characters have had major prophecies given to them. The soothsayer tells Caesar “beware the ides of March” on this day it was prophesied that something bad would happen to Caesar . The Oracle at Delphi prophesied that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother (Comparison 1). Brutus, Caesar’s best friend, and Oedipus could both be described as honorable (Comparison 2). Brutus shows honor by letting Marc Antony speak at Caesar’s funeral. Oedipus shows honor by truly caring for the well being of Thebes and not just focusing on his power. Both plays have women committing suicide. Portia, Brutus’ wife, commits suicide because she is lonely. In Oedipus Rex Jocasta, Oedipus’ mother/wife, commits suicide by hanging herself because she was so distraught that she married her son (Comparison 3). The last major similarity is that in the end of both plays the supporting and main characters felt guilty. Brutus and Cassius both started feeling guilty for what they did to Caesar and the other people around them. Cassius started feeling bad for all the people he had manipulated, deceived, and hurt that he had his servant kill him (Julius III). In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus and his wife both felt so guilty for what they had done without even knowing it, that she killed herself and he gouged his eyes out and fled the nation (Sophocles III).
Even though both plays have some striking similarities they also have some huge differences. Despite the fact that both characters got horrible prophecies given to them they reacted in different ways. Caesar was arrogant and chose to ignore the soothsayer ;however, Oedipus took it seriously and fled Corinth to try and avoid the prophecy given to him (Comparison 1). Despite the fact that Brutus and Oedipus are considered honorable, Caesar is not. He was killed because none of the senators or his closest friends thought that he would do what was best for Rome, and that he would become a dictator (Julius II). This implies that he only cared about power and not the well being of Rome. Even though both characters were given the role of king because the people of the nations loved them and thought of them as gods, Oedipus never planned to become king he just wanted to save his father’s life. Oedipus’ motives were pure. Caesar on the other hand, all he wanted was to become king. He wanted to be the most powerful, because the power that he already had was not enough. The last major difference was that Caesar was taken down because his friends and the Senate did not think he had Rome’s best interest at heart. However; Oedipus, when he found out that he was the cause of the famine in Thebes did what was best for the nation and gave up his power to save the people, which is something that Caesar would never do (Sophocles III).
In conclusion, both of these plays have very influential characters who are similar in some ways but very different in others. Caesar and Oedipus might not be exactly the same, but both of their decisions changed the course of their entire lives. These two characters bring two very different personality types and show the reader how power can change or corrupt a person. Oedipus Rex and The Tragedy of Julius Caesar are great examples of loss of trust and family.
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