Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

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There are many types of leaders all over the world, everyone has had to deal with one that no matter how excellent their leadership skills were, they had at least one flaw that could destroy their entire career, such as a bad temper. This is understandable because nobody is perfect, although, one must learn to recognize and be cautious with these flaws because, a flaw can potentially bring great consequences to not only the person but to everyone around them as well. Especially when one holds a great deal of power and responsibility. In “Oedipus Rex”, a great example of how a flaw can be devastating to an entire kingdom when one does not learn to control them is demonstrated. Sophocles argues that, despite how skilled one is as a leader, if one does not learn to master their flaws, it will cause poor decision making, and possibly total loss of authority.

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The story demonstrates great leadership skills in many parts of the story. Sophocles shows excellent leadership in Oedipus Rex with Oedipus himself who is able to maintain integrity throughout the entire story despite the difficult challenges he is struck with. Oedipus is both tough enough to guard the kingdom yet compassionate enough to feel the pain and hear the needs of their people who are suffering and dying. Oedipus demonstrated how he could take care of an entire kingdom by defeating the sphinx that was haunting the kingdom as soon as he arrived to Thebes “you saved us from the Sphinx” (578, 38-39). Everybody looks up to him because of this. They see a brave and tough man who saved them all. They feel safe around him and that is why they made him king. They see him almost as “the man surest in mortal ways and wisest in the ways of God” (578, 37-38). He is a compassionate person who is suffering greatly because his people are dying. He demonstrates his compassion when he goes personally to hear the prayers of the people who have lost their loved ones and are dying because of a plague that is attacking the kingdom “I have come myself to hear you” (577, 8). He loves his people even though he has no relation to them. His main goal is to protect the people of Thebes and find a solution to the plague and, at any cost he will accomplish it. Oedipus is an amazing leader.

The story strongly argues that one must learn to control their flaws in order to be a great leader. Despite the fact that Oedipus is a great leader, there is a big flaw that might seem insignificant to many, but it is significantly astounding how much damage a bad temper can cause. The moment that Oedipus hears something that he doesn’t like or agree with, he loses total control of his temper and begins to yell. This causes people to be afraid to talk to him because they are afraid of what his reaction might be “when it comes to speech, your own is neither temperate nor opportune” (586, 109-110). Oedipus literally forces people to speak, he will condemn them if they don’t do so you made me speak. I did not want to” (587, 140). It is almost impossible and unpleasing to forcibly speak to a person who’s completely full of rage and anger. This is his big flaw, one that he must learn to control before it brings great consequences to him.

Sophocles examines how a bad temper can lead one to make poor choices. Throughout the entire story Oedipus makes many poor choices, most of them are when he is full rage and anger. To begin, he killed his own father because he lost his temper when he was forced off the road “I killed him” (600, 289). If Oedipus wouldn’t have lost his temper, he wouldn’t have murdered his father, he would have never became king, he wouldn’t have had children with his mother therefore, the oracle would have not come true. In addition, Oedipus also has another moment of rage when Tiresias is brought in to speak with him, Oedipus completely disregards the truth just because he doesn’t like it, he then goes on to make false statements about Kreon because he was angry. At one point Kreon even tells Oedipus “if you think there is anything good in being stubborn against all reason, then I say you are wrong” (592, 37-38). Everyone sees him as a stubborn person who doesn’t stop to analyze what is being said before he acts on his emotions and disregards everybody else’s. One truly needs to learn to control ones temper in order to be a great leader, a bad leader will end up making poor choices and in the end, failing.

Ultimately, Sophocles examines that when one is controlled by their bad temper, one will make poor decisions which can lead to serious consequences such as total loss of authority. Oedipus was a great leader who ruled an entire kingdom and had a family, he couldn’t ask for anymore. All he wanted was to save his people from the plague. Unfortunately his bad temper caused him to make poor decisions every time he was faced with a hardship. In return, serious consequences began and in the end he lost everything he had. His wife committed suicide “her body was swaying from the cruel cord she had noosed about her neck” (613, 38-39). After the truth was unraveled about who he was, his dear mother/wife could not handle the truth and committed suicide. It was his stubbornness and bad temper that let the truth about everything be unraveled, and if only he could have made his choices in a nicer and kinder way, a lot of it, if not all, could have been avoided.

Oedipus knows he has to leave the castle because he has finally realized that it is all his fault and “my own guilt” (616, 156). He is well aware that everything that has happened is his fault and regrets it all, but what good is it now if he has lost it all. He has lost his kingdom, his family, and also his sight. One bad choice right after another. It is crucial to sit, calm down, and think about the choices one is going to make and what is going to be said when one is confronted with a hardship. Even when one is not content one needs calmly make any rational decisions at all times, otherwise everything will just get even worse. A bad temper could be a bad flaw to a leader that could have consequences such as total loss of authority.

In order for one to be a great leader one must definitely be brave and caring just as Sophocles demonstrates in “Oedipus Rex”. However despite how great one is a leader one must learn to deal with ones flaws so that people feel comfortable speaking with one about arising problems but also to make wise decisions with any situation given to one. Oedipus made one bad decision after another because his anger took total control of him every time life confronted him with something that he did not like until he lost everything he had. If he would calmly and wisely made every choice in his life he would have been a great leader.

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Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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