Sophocles’ short play follows a different path with this question of success, partially because of the beliefs of the time period. Oedipus is an innocent man who becomes victim to fate and the wrong decision of an innocent shepherd with no concept of the future he would ruin. Through the prophecy his life was already doomed, said he would one day kill his father and marry his mother. When his parents send him away to be killed the shepherd takes one misstep, an innocent and merciful step, to save his life giving him to a family far from his parent’s kingdom. Oedipus grows up as a strong and successful man until his horrible fate returns. Once the prophesy is fulfilled and Oedipus learns of the deeds he has committed, he gouges out his eyes and banishes himself from his kingdom.
Oedipus is presented with a mountain of adversity impossible to overcome. But why does he lack total ability to succeed? Why must he fail? The answer comes down to his fate. He was destined to “fail” from the beginning. Sophocles would answer the question stating that certain people are destined to prevail and destined to fail. It doesn’t require a certain level of intelligence or strength, a social position or support system. It comes down to our predetermined fate.