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Tragedy Across The Mediterranean

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‘The Tale of Sohrab’ from Shahnameh and the tragedy of Oedipus are both centered on the destiny that awaits these protagonists; Oedipus from birth and Rostam as a result of his son’s nationality and his fame and strength as a fighter. Although the tales are set in different geographical places and cultures, Oedipus in Colonus while Rostam and Sohrab in Persia, they share some similarities and have some differences as well that can be highlighted. The essay below will explain the similarities and some of the differences in the tales in the context of the protagonists in the stories and make an argument for the strength or weakness in both cases.

Both tales have famous and celebrated protagonists; Rostam and Oedipus, who are well respected in their era and recognized as heroes to their people. Both Oedipus and Rostam were regarded as heroes in the eyes of their people because they were guardians of their people. Rostam returned to his home in Persia because he considers his vocation to protect the people of Persia to be grander than his pleasure as a husband and as a father. Oedipus, similarly, kills the Sphinx that torments his people and as a king pays attention to his people in the face of a calamity and takes the step to ask the Oracle about the source of the plight of his people. Another clear connection between the two heroes is that they both slew important and close family members unintentionally. Oedipus killed his father, Laius because of his pride that wouldn’t let him relent during a conflict between the two in their travel wagons. Sohrab, on the other hand, yearned to know his birth father because his mother, Tahmina the princess, had kept the identity undisclosed for fear of losing his son. Both tales culminate in the great tragedy that is unresolvable. In the end, both protagonists experience too much distress at the realization of their deeds and take action they perceive as retribution in their eyes. Rostam torches all his possessions that he had amassed in his conquests and relinquished his title as a mighty warrior. Oedipus, likewise, condemns himself to be exiled and to the life of a poor beggar.

However, the protagonists have some differences as well that can be highlighted by their personalities and their experiences. First and foremost, Rostam killed his son, Sohrab while Oedipus slay his father, Laius. Oedipus is depicted as being emotional and too self-righteous to believe in the prophecy about his life. He is also careless in the way he handles the prophecy and ends up bound by the same destiny he is evading. Rostam, on the other hand, is a trickster hero and would rather win in whatever way despite his honor. Rostam disobeys standard rules and reputable behavior of combat that requires one to die in a macho way when he faces death. In the Turan versus Persia war, when it seems that there is a chance that he may be subdued, he uses deception to escape death and later overcome his son. This turned out poorly for Rostam because being blinded by the passion for winning, he ended up maiming and slaying his son. Rostam is also relentless and impulsive when he believes that the end justifies the means and isn’t bothered by the trickery he has to use to survive. This makes him remarkably different Oedipus. Oedipus would instead spare his decency and uprightness from the people and punishes himself even though he was the king and had the power to refuse to step down and answer for his mistakes. Also, to the human eyes, his epic elicited pity than anger since fate from birth bound him hence; it would be excusable if he kept his throne.

In conclusion, these tales are more similar than different in the sense that both protagonists’ reaction to their actions. Their people consider them heroes, and they act as so. Despite the physical setting of the tales, the stories are centered on the epic tragedy of the protagonists at the highest moments of their lives. Regardless of the plot of the stories, they all conclude with the tragic end of the protagonists. Their wives’ lives also end at their inability to bear the truth of their husband’s decisions. The variances in the plot of the tragedies arise as a result of the characters of the protagonists, and in this way, the resemblances far outweigh the differences.

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Tragedy across the Mediterranean. (2019, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from
“Tragedy across the Mediterranean.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2019,
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