Is it Free Will or is it Destiny that define one’s life? “A silly question!”, one might ask, for, how can one have a Destiny without the Free Will to act upon it?
They say that Aristotle once told Alexander the Great that he was “Destined to conquer the known world”, he told him that he was “Destined” because he believed in Destiny shaping one’s life just as much as one’s free will, Alexander believed him, he did conquer the known world at the age of 32. Sophocles believed that Oedipus was destined to end up as a tragic hero, although it was his free will that lead him to become that tragic figure, he was destined to kill his Father and to sleep with his Mother, all his will power to escape from that fate, only lead him to meet his destiny.
In the religion of Islam, there is law called “القضاء والقدر, Qaza u Qadar”, a predestination, when something happen, the saying goes; “It was Qaza u Qadar”, a loose translation in English will be, “It was written…”. According to the law, everything that happens, it happens, because it was destined to happen, a divine destiny, everything is pre-destined, Man is a created without the ultimate will power to control his fate, it is Destiny that shapes one’s life. “Why did you fall in love with that girl?”, “I was destined too!” as the saying goes.
The ancient Greek knew best about destiny; one may call Greek Mythology as nothing but an examination of one’s attempt to escape the written destiny. Among all the tragic Greek plays, The King Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles is the ultimate examination one’s inability to escape destiny, the play had always been a favorite of mine. I remember when I was a kid, we had a big library in the house, full of books, among them was King Oedipus by Sophocles, it was my first encounter with Oedipus, the pre/post modern tragic hero of destiny, I read it in Kurdish the first time, from then on, I felt in love with Greek mythologies, and still is, many years later. When I moved to the States, the only book that I took with me was the Penguin Classic English edition of The King Oedipus Trilogy, and when I returned home, many years later, it was among the few books that I brought back with me.
So much has been said, so much has been written about Oedipus; from Julius Caesar’s take to re-write the play to Freud’s attempt at explaining neuroses in childhood, the famed Oedipus Complex.
I always believed that Sophocles wrote King Oedipus to prove his ultimate thought; Man was controlled by Destiny and not Free Will, and, perhaps, the best take on that thought can be found in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s small masterpiece, Oedipus Rex (1967), a modern take on a post-modern tragic hero, the poor Oedipus, he does his best to let his will decide his fate, only to realize in the end, that destiny master his fate, and his free will is enslaved by destiny, his search for knowledge, his search for the unknown, only lead him closer to his fate, the ending of the film is Sophocles’ thought put into words; blinded by his own dagger, Oedipus shout into to the darkness:
Thus I will no longer see the evil I have suffered and done. In the dark, I will not see what should not be seen. I will not recognize those I wanted to recognize. I should have severed also my ears. To seal up in myself, in my unhappy body. To see and hear nothing again. It is sweet to have the mind outside evil. For, impure things must be kept silent, not spoken of, not testified to; Silence!”
The next shot: We find blind Oedipus in modern day Rome, as he play his flute, he can not, and will not see anymore, he become silence, with only music as his companion, he finally has found a way in escaping his destiny, a way; in silence and music.