Not Evil Because of Ignorance

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 62-63

“Stranger, these are the events, but they are not
Honored in the tales, but they are by those who live nearby”

τοιαῦτά σοι ταῦτ᾿ ἐστίν, ὦ ξέν᾿, οὐ λόγοις
τιμώμεν᾿, ἀλλὰ τῇ ξυνουσίᾳ πλέον.


Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 141

“He is terrible to look at and terrible to hear”

δεινὸς μὲν ὁρᾶν, δεινὸς δὲ κλύειν


Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 258-259

“What use is a good reputation? What good is
Fame flowing off to no end?”

τί δῆτα δόξης, ἢ τί κληδόνος καλῆς
μάτην ῥεούσης ὠφέλημα γίγνεται


Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 265-75

“….for you do not fear
My name or my actions, since you know
That I suffered the actions instead of doing them,
If you must speak of what my mother and father did—
These are the reasons you fear me. I know this well.

How could I be evil in nature
When I acted after being hurt so that even if
I understood what I was doing, I could not have been bad?
I got to where I did understanding nothing,
But I was ruined by those who understood what was happening.”

ὐ γὰρ δὴ τό γε
σῶμ᾿ οὐδὲ τἄργα τἄμ᾿· ἐπεὶ τά γ᾿ ἔργα με
πεπονθότ᾿ ἴσθι μᾶλλον ἢ δεδρακότα,
εἴ σοι τὰ μητρὸς καὶ πατρὸς χρείη λέγειν,
ὧν οὕνεκ᾿ ἐκφοβῇ με· τοῦτ᾿ ἐγὼ καλῶς
270ἔξοιδα. καίτοι πῶς ἐγὼ κακὸς φύσιν,
ὅστις παθὼν μὲν ἀντέδρων, ὥστ᾿ εἰ φρονῶν
ἔπρασσον, οὐδ᾿ ἂν ὧδ᾿ ἐγιγνόμην κακός;
ῦν δ᾿ οὐδὲν εἰδὼς ἱκόμην ἵν᾿ ἱκόμην,
ὑφ᾿ ὧν δ᾿ ἔπασχον, εἰδότων ἀπωλλύμην.

Oedipus at Colonus. Engraving by Antoine- alexandre-Theodore Giroust. Iconographic Coll. folder 6357.


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