An Analysis of The High-Minded Man by Aristotle
The High-Minded Man Oedipus’ life is like a bad fortune cookie. He is short of luck and is destined to a bad future. Throughout his misfortune he still exemplifies a few of Aristotle’s “The High-Minded Man” qualities. Aristotle wrote of qualities that only a man of greatness and happiness would acquire.
The essay, “The High-Minded Man” by Aristotle reflects characteristics of Oedipus In Oedipus Rex, he displays the high-minded qualities of truth and honor, but lacks in the gift of fortune. A high-minded man is one who speaks the truth.
In “The High Minded Man” Aristotle writes “He must care for truth more than for what men will think of him, and speak and act openly. He will not hesitate to say what he thinks. ” (Witt 160). He explains how people should see past what others will think of how they act and speak.
In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus displays this characteristic. Oedipus speaks his mind to Kreon: So you dared come back. Why? How brazen of you to come to my house, You murderer! Do you think that I do not know that you plotted to kill me, plotted to steal my throne?…
You are the fool, Kreon, are you not? Hoping without the support or friends to get the throne? Thrones may be won or bought: you could do neither. (Fitzgerald 116) Oedipus accuses Kreon, the brother of his wife, of plotting to kill him and steal the throne. It shows the characteristic because Oedipus did not hesitate to speak his thoughts and act openly. He was searching for the truth. In order to help save his kingdom from a plague, he made false accusations that sacrificed his relationship with his wife’s brother for a greater cause.
Another high-minded quality is to be concerned with honor. Aristotle said, “… that honour is what high-minded men are concerned with; for it is honour that great men claim and deserve”.
(Witt 160). Honor is for those who claim much and deserve much, they should want to be great. Oedipus savors being worshiped like in the conversation between him and the priest: Oedipus: …
I Oedipus, who bear the famous name… Tell me, and never doubt that I will help you in every way I can; I should be heartless were
I not moved to find you suppliant here. Priest: Great Oedipus, O powerful king of Thebes! (Fitzgerald 110) The priest praises Oedipus as the powerful king of Thebes.
Oedipus says he is the one who is famous. He enjoys being glorified as the almighty king. Later, he is also concerned that Kreon is plotting to take his throne. It shows how concerned he is with keeping his power. The greatest people must be perfectly good and excellent. He reaches to be good when he says he would help in every way he could because he wants to be honored.
Aristotle said the gift of fortune also contributes to high-mindedness. “For those who are well born are though worthy of honour, and those who are powerful or wealthy; for they are in a position of superiority. ” (Witt 160). Oedipus did not receive the gift of fortune. In Oedipus’ words are spoken the truth of the prophecy: Ah God! It was true! All the prophecies! -Now O Light, May I look on you for the last time! I, Oedipus, Oedipus damned in his birth, in his marriage damned, Damned in the blood he shed with his own hand! (Fitzgerald 124)
Oedipus discovers his prophecy was indeed true, that he killed his own father and married his own mother. Oedipus did not symbolize this aspect of high-mindedness because he did not grow up with power or wealth.
He began his life as a deserted newborn in a field with a shepherd. Oedipus had no goodness and good fortune from birth, so he never could achieve this quality of high-mindedness. Oedipus personality fits some of Aristotle’s qualities of being a high-minded man. Oedipus’ character speaks the truth, acts openly, and is concerned with honor, but he did not have the gift of fortune.
He acts rash and takes swift action that had consequences on his fate. Oedipus acted swiftly in finding Laios’ killer and more evidence led to himself, even though his wife told him to stop investigating his past.
In today’s society it is tough to see any one worthy of being labeled “High-Minded”. People care more of what others see in them, than truth itself. Oedipus fought to find the truth of his past, though he knew there could be dire consequences. His honest approach proceeds to make him fit more high-minded qualities than most people would in today’s society.