The Apollonian Dionysian

Both the sons of Zeus, Nietzsche distinguished the two as opposites: Apollo the god of reason and order, and Dionysus the god of irrationality and chaos.

I have realized that these divine brothers are in harmony, at the core foundation of Oedipus Rex. Sophocles’ play unifies tragedy and analytics, or systematic thinking and disastrous emotions.

Towards the ancient Greek men, the work showcases that utilizing our rational faculties to betray the gods would only lead to tragedy. Since the masses at the time were profoundly religious, I would regard this drama as a prophet’s masterwork: it preserves the historical obligation to surrender reverently.

Oedipus was crowned, and to him, reason is king. He was proud of himself and had confidence in his prestige. He decided to sin, which in context, means “not fulfilling who you are” instead of “breaking an objective moral law”.

Teiresias was the opposite, and to him, faith is god. He humbled himself without vanity and trusted in supreme powers. Despite the blindness, he had the gift of foreknowledge. Even the gods bow to fate; hence such talents are enormously treasured.

With the repetition of Oedipus’ stubborn dialogues of attempting to ignore Apollo’s prophecies, and his brazen tendency to be certain of what he prefers to believe (and stormed conspiracies against his beloved ones), the audience would come into a realization that pride urges one’s self to maintain their personal beliefs despite contrary rebukes.

He took advantage of his own reasoning, but was unaware of the fact of the matter. He followed the ways of Apollo (through rational means) but the process in itself is Dionysus-like (a calamitous mumbo jumbo).

This is a brilliant synthesis that expresses the conservative standpoint that hope permits the illusion of controlling one’s destiny, for the gods orchestrate all tragedies into necessity.


The Existential Crossroads

Sophocles’ element of circuit elevates an existential obscurity.

Oedipus travelled in a circle, inadvertently—oblivious to the resolution that crossing the road from Delphi, resisting Daulia, completed the revolution. He fled from home, only to return.

His discoveries of the obnoxious augury prompted him to the predestined three-path intersection. This may represent the Three Fates, who regulates destinies. The crossroad, then, marks the route towards prophetical and existential fulfillment; it is the watershed of effectuating his transcendental purpose. This is how fate works. His journey towards veracity concerned unearthing his past path, till his origins.

Moreover, he fathomed out a riddle respecting mankind to enter his newfound home (ironically), satisfying his self-absorbed objective to circumvent Apollo’s omniscience. Subsequently, he unraveled another riddle (as a detective), but regarding himself (as the murderer), delineating his formerly concealed map! To discover objective past truths, he ought to reject wishful past truths.

To comprehend one’s kind and self, then, via shrewd appreciation of historical matrix, enables one to perceive not merely particulars, but entirety.

Altogether, the text reflects Kant’s notion of the reconciliation between freedom and necessity. They are natural affinities, as we are condemned to be free, that fate stems from our individual determinations. Oedipus’ murder at the crossroad is warranted by his intelligence (his strive against jeopardy to escape into Thebes), but also due to his ignorance (his reliance upon debatable presuppositions) and incaution (his tendency to kill without probabilistic considerations).

The road then represents a clash between revelation and rationalism: avoiding the gods swayed Oedipus closer to god’s will. Trying to find his true self from his own, subjective eyes would only find his true, objective self.

Therefore, the tragedy is an existential enigma, inviting us to contemplate on our metaphysical authenticity—a marionette of the phenomenal or noumenal reality.