"Oedipus Rex" is a classic Greek tragedy. In ancient times, a tragedy did not require an unhappy ending. It meant that a noble hero had to run into obstacles. All of mankind is restricted by morality, but no man more so than tragic heroes. According to Sophocles" own words, a tragic hero has meaning beyond his grasp. Oedipus Rex is not only the protagonist of this story, but he is also the tragic hero. He faces obstacles and he has a meaning that he cannot comprehend. But what exactly is a tragic hero? In order to answer this question, one must clarify the meaning of a "hero". .
A hero is commonly considered to be a courageous person who saves others. In mythological terms, a hero is a man with supernatural powers. However, in more realistic terms, a hero is simply a person who is extremely brave or admired. In many cases, a heroic person dies for the safety of others. King Oedipus fulfills all of these requirements, yet is considered a tragic hero. Although he does not seem to possess supernatural powers, Oedipus is definitely brave and greatly admired. The citizens of his city rely on him for safety, and therefore call upon him to rid their city of a horrible plague. The tragic part of his heroism becomes clear when the citizens tell him what he must do in order to rid this city of its" plight. Oedipus must get rid of the man who killed the former king, Laius. From the beginning of the story, the reader already knows that Oedipus himself killed Laius. It is tragic because Oedipus must die to help his city. Not only does this fact create a tragic hero, but it also creates tragic irony.
By definition, tragic irony is the revealing to an audience of a tragic event or consequence unknown to the character involved. The readers know that Oedipus was born with a horrible prophecy, one which said that he would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. The readers also know that Oedipus" father was King Laius.