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Essay on Oedupus Rex and Libation Bearers

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Contemporary Analysis of Ethics, Virtues and Moral Dilemmas in Greek Plays

The Greek Plays including ‘Antigone,' ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Libation Bearers’ (Orestia) are generally viewed and praised as works of fine literature, written by renounced playwrights during the 5th century. The plays themselves are ample with hamartia, catharsis, irony and enriched faculties of composition. Notwithstanding its great value in literature, the Greek plays possess a unique, different dimension that is not often brought to light. The plays hold lavish significance in justice, ethics and morality. These plays articulate on these aspects by questioning the readers in forms of moral dilemmas installed in the platys. These plays prompt us with questions of strong perplexity that still intrigue and ignite debates even with our advanced contemporary political justice, and better established sense of ethics and morality. Moral dilemmas that we, as individuals, are left to ponder, and compelled to weigh our own virtues against laws, social norms and justice. Thus, not only did the Greek playwrights bestow alluring masterpieces of plays, in hindsight, they also prompted all of us with morally conflicting questions that arose alongside their development of democracy. Likewise, the life in democratic societies is rife with countless political disputes over right and wrong, justice and injustice, which are all explicitly manifested in the plays ‘Antigone,'’Oedipus Rex’ and Libation Bearers’. This essay will introduce one moral dilemma from each of the three plays and contemplate on the justice of each of the circumstances. Moreover, this essay does not aspire to present an ‘absolute’ justice to all these moral dilemmas, and to provide jurisdiction, yet, inst...


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...s of incest? Can one’s ignorance of his actions be the basis for his innocence?
In our democratic societies, rife with vice and disputes over justice, there might have already been similar cases as those of our plays. Perhaps, one had already committed matricide under external pressure(a gun to his/her head, or a beloved one), perhaps one breached the fence of law, in order to achieve goodness(ran a red light to get to his/her dying mother) or even perhaps, someone had unknowingly committed incest with his mother who had been separated at birth. With all these morally perplexing question, how then, can we reason our way through the contested terrain of justice and injustice, equity and inequity? As the Greek plays have provided us, is to encounter with a hard moral dilemma. To start with an opinion, or a conviction about justice just like the Greek playwrights did.


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