Board Games and Fate Essay

Fate is a theme that often occurs in Greek literature and drama. Oedipus Rex is no exception to this statement. The author, Sophocles, tries to make a point in Oedipus Rex that fate controls everything that you do in life and no matter how hard you try to escape your prophecy, it will always come true. A board game is a perfect way to represent the theme of fate in Oedipus Rex. In a board game, you have a single goal: to get to the finish before anyone else.

This especially applies to board games that only have one path to follow. Similar to the theme of fate in Oedipus Rex, there is only one option for the future. No matter how you go about playing the game, you will always end up at the finish. The first example is when Laius, Oedipus’ real father, attempts to avoid a prophecy of him dying at the hands of his own son. Laius nails the baby Oedipus to the ground on Mount Cithaeron, leaving him to die. Except Oedipus was found and rescued by a servant to Polybus, the king of Corinth.

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Polybus and his wife, Merope, adopt Oedipus and raise him as their own. This led Oedipus into believing that Polybus and Merope were his real parents. When a drunk in Corinth told him that he was going to kill his father and marry his mother; he thought he could escape the prediction by leaving Corinth. This is a second example of how people try to use free will to escape fate. Unfortunately, Oedipus encounters a convoy that happens to be carrying Laius, though Oedipus is not aware of this.

There was friction created between the men, and Oedipus ended up killing Laius and the rest of the men with the exception of a single messenger, who fled back to Thebes to share the news of what happened. In the end, Laius was indeed killed by his own son, and Oedipus killed his father, though neither of them knew it at the time. The prophecy was fulfilled in spite of all the efforts to prevent it. The same concept can be applied to a board game. It is “prophesized” that each player will finish if they play the game all the way through. The layers can’t deflect this fact because there is only one path to follow. Consequently, the players aren’t at all responsible for the result of the board game, just like how Oedipus was not responsible for the way his life ended up. At least in the way Sophocles describes it, fate controls everything that happens in Oedipus’ life; so when Oedipus kills his father, marries his mother, and gets exiled from Thebes, he ultimately is not responsible for any of this. Next time you play a board game with your family and friends, I hope you keep in mind that the winner and losers have already been determined by fate.