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Rulers fall by flaw, not fate


Syed Qasim Raza

Man’s history from the beginning is full of examples of the downfall of once the most powerful rulers in the world ended up in misery and punishment. A critical study into history reveals some flaws common in all the mighty rulers i.e. Pride, arrogance and fear of defeat. These personality bugs drove them into a ditch dug by themselves. Every beginning has an end; every mountain has a peak; every ocean has a bed; and every rise has a fall. This truth was understood and unveiled in writings by many wise people lived even thousands of years ago in the history and Sophocles is one of them.

Sophocles is an ancient Greek Tragedian who’s work survived through centuries and ‘Oedipus Rex’ is regarded as the masterpiece by scholars of all times. Sophocles died in 406 BC and this play was first performed in 429 BC. ‘Rex’ means the king and Oedipus was the name of the king of Thebes, Greece. Blinded by his pride, Oedipus endeavored to avoid his ‘foretold’ doom but every effort he made pushed him even closer to destruction. When Oedipus was born to his father King Laius and Queen Jocasta, there was a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. In order to prevent the prophecy King Laius ordered his own son’s death by abandoning him on the mountains while his feet tied together. The servant did not carry out King’s orders and handed the child to a herdsman who took him to neighbor country and the child was adopted and raised by King Polybus and his wife who had no children.

When Oedipus was a young man he came to know about his adoption by a drunk man in a party. Although King Polybus and his foster mother denied the fact, Oedipus went to Temple of prophecies ‘the Oracle’ in search of truth. Oracle revealed the same prophecy to him as was told years ago to his biological father King Laius that he would kill his father and take his mother into marriage. Blinded by his anger and fear, he quit the search about his adoption and decided not to go home and travelled to Thebes – the country of his birth. This was his first wrong decision taken by freewill. Overwhelmed by his fear, on his way to the country of his birth, he had a road fight on the right of way in which he killed his father King Laius who was traveling in the caravan. This was his second big mistake committed in madness.

He solved the riddle of Sphinx and in return was offered the throne of Thebes and also marriage to recent widow Queen Jocasta which he accepted. This was the third mistake in a row by his flawed judgement and blind effort to falsify the prophecy. He could simply have stayed unmarried to avoid the prophecy. Later in the play, as the king of Thebes Oedipus was obligated to find and punish the killer of former King Laius. Despite the warnings by Jocasta herself and Tiresias – a saint, out of sheer pride Oedipus refused to all advice and his investigation led him to uncover his crime and self-destruction. The writer did not portray his destruction predestined but as a result of his consecutive bad decisions fueled by stubbornness, pride and fear of defeat.

The nature of downfall might be unique to each individual ruler but causes are very much common as discussed earlier. A fresh example of our own country is an eye-opener for many who are still befuddled by a false belief of indefinite rule and also for those who will gain power in the future. A deliberate show of pride and self-destruction has been put up to audience by the ruling “democratic” operators in Pakistan, back-fired in Supreme Court’s prompt reaction. Regardless of the arguable fact about Nehal Hashmi’s speech being words of an individual or a party, blunderingly, it has slid another rock underneath the ‘cliff’ of ruling party in a series of disastrous measures taken in the wake of Panama Leaks. One step after another by the accused family is dragging them toward their political extinction. They have now reached a point of no return. No matter what they do in future will not restore their political esteem. They had nothing to lose if only their party leader would have resigned in the beginning but this opportunity expired unutilized.

(The writer is The Resident Editor of The Educationist Boston, USA and a graduate of MA Communication Management and Public Relation from London Metropolitan University, U.K. He can be reached at: syed_q_raza@yahoo.com and also at: syedqraza.wordpress.com)

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