What Is a Greek Tragic Hero?

According to Ohio University, Aristotle described a Greek tragic hero is a decent person who makes a tragic mistake that leads to his downfall. Because those watching the play feel a connection with the tragic hero, they experience a feeling of catharsis through watching his downfall.

For Aristotle, the ideal tragic hero was Oedipus, the protagonist of the Greek playwright Sophocles's play "Oedipus the King." A decent man, Oedipus wins the audience over with his virtue and intelligence. However, he makes a fatal mistake when he unwittingly kills his birth father and marries his birth mother. When his city, Thebes, is in the grip of a terrible plague, he learns that the only way to dispel it is to catch the man who killed Laius, the former king. However, that man is Oedipus himself. When he discovers the truth, he blinds himself, and his wife, Jocasta, commits suicide.