Throughout this mythic story of patricide and incest, Sophocles emphasizes the irony of a man determined to track down, expose, and punish an assassin, who turns out to be himself. As the play opens, the citizens of Thebes beg their king, Oedipus, to lift the plague that threatens to destroy the city. Oedipus has already sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle to learn what to do.
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March Learn how and when to remove this template message Painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres depicting Oedipus after he solves the riddle of the Sphinx.
Many parts or elements of the myth of Oedipus occur before the opening scene of the play, although some are alluded to in the text. Oedipus is the son of Laius and Jocastathe king and queen of Thebes. The misfortunes of his house are the result of a curse laid upon his father for violating the sacred laws of hospitality.
In his youth, Laius was the guest of Pelopsthe king of Elisand he became the tutor of Chrysippusthe king's youngest son, in chariot racing. Laius seduced or abducted and raped Chrysippus, who according to some versions, killed himself in shame. This murder cast a doom over Laius and all of his descendants although many scholars regard Laius' transgressions against Chrysippus to be a late addition to the myth.
When his son is born, the king consults an oracle as to his fortune. To his horror, the oracle reveals that Laius "is doomed to perish by the hand of his own son". Laius binds the infant's feet together with a pin, and orders Jocasta to kill him.
Unable to kill her own son, Jocasta orders a servant to slay the infant for her. The servant then exposes the infant on a mountaintop, where he is found and rescued by a shepherd in some versions, the servant gives the infant to the shepherd.
The shepherd names the child Oedipus"swollen feet", as his feet had been tightly bound by Laius. The shepherd brings the infant to Corinthand presents him to the childless king Polybuswho raises Oedipus as his own son. As he grows to manhood, Oedipus hears a rumour that he is not truly the son of Polybus and his wife, Merope.
He asks the Delphic Oracle who his parents really are. Desperate to avoid this terrible fate, Oedipus, who still believes that Polybus and Merope are his true parents, leaves Corinth for the city of Thebes.
On the road to Thebes, Oedipus encounters Laius and his retainers, and the two quarrel over whose chariot has the right of way. The Theban king moves to strike the insolent youth with his sceptre, but Oedipus, unaware that Laius is his true father, throws the old man down from his chariot, killing him.
Thus, Laius is slain by his own son, and the prophecy that the king had sought to avoid by exposing Oedipus at birth is fulfilled. Before arriving at Thebes, Oedipus encounters the Sphinxa legendary beast with the head and breast of a woman, the body of a lioness, and the wings of an eagle.
The Sphinx was sent to the road approaching Thebes as a punishment from the gods, and would strangle any traveler who failed to answer a certain riddle. The precise riddle asked by the Sphinx varied in early traditions, and is not stated in Oedipus Rex, as the event precedes the play; but the most widely-known version is, "what is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening?
Bested by the prince, the Sphinx throws herself from a cliff, thereby ending the curse. Plot[ edit ] P. Oedipus, King of Thebes, sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to ask advice of the oracle at Delphiconcerning a plague ravaging Thebes.
Creon returns to report that the plague is the result of religious pollution, since the murderer of their former king, Laiushas never been caught. Oedipus vows to find the murderer and curses him for causing the plague. Oedipus summons the blind prophet Tiresias for help. When Tiresias arrives he claims to know the answers to Oedipus's questions, but refuses to speak, instead telling him to abandon his search.
Oedipus is enraged by Tiresias' refusal, and verbally accuses him of complicity in Laius' murder. Outraged, Tiresias tells the king that Oedipus himself is the murderer "You yourself are the criminal you seek". Oedipus cannot see how this could be, and concludes that the prophet must have been paid off by Creon in an attempt to undermine him.
The two argue vehemently, as Oedipus mocks Tiresias' lack of sight, and Tiresias in turn tells Oedipus that he himself is blind.
Eventually Tiresias leaves, muttering darkly that when the murderer is discovered he shall be a native citizen of Thebes, brother and father to his own children, and son and husband to his own mother. Creon arrives to face Oedipus's accusations.
The King demands that Creon be executed; however, the chorus persuades him to let Creon live. Jocasta enters and attempts to comfort Oedipus, telling him he should take no notice of prophets. As proof, she recounts an incident in which she and Laius received an oracle which never came true. The prophecy stated that Laius would be killed by his own son; however, Jocasta reassures Oedipus by her statement that Laius was killed by bandits at a crossroads on the way to Delphi.Oedipus the King unfolds as a murder mystery, a political thriller, and a psychological whodunit.
Throughout this mythic story of patricide and incest, Sophocles emphasizes the irony of a man determined to track down, expose, and punish an assassin, who turns out to be himself. Oedipus, The King Summary Because the story was one familiar to most of its viewers in its time, there are certain things that they are expected to already know.
Among them is the background to the legend.
The story of Oedipus is the subject of Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus Rex, which was followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone. Together, these plays make up Sophocles' three Theban plays. Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual's role in the course of destiny in a harsh universe.
\ Oedipus the King Study Questions Answers. Oedipus the King Study Questions Answers.
The Sphinx caused them to forget the crime. 7. who are the members of the Why did the drunken man’s story bother Oedipus? It bothered Oedipus because the man called him a bastard. Oedipus the King, lines 1– Summary.
Oedipus steps out of the royal palace of Thebes and is greeted by a procession of priests, who are in turn surrounded by the impoverished and sorrowful citizens of Thebes.
The citizens carry branches wrapped in wool, which they offer to the gods as gifts. Oedipus will realize he is the murderer, lose his eyesight, have no joy, lose all of his money, be exiled, and discover his odd relations with Jocasta and Laius.