Classics 210: Greek & Roman Classics in English 10/9
Sophocles’ Oedipus the King
Plague at Thebes: lack of fertility that has extended to all of the city (the animals,
plants, and humankind)
Worried, the entire city gathers outside of the palace waiting for Oedipus (the king of
Thebes, married to Jocasta) to save them all. He sends Creon (his brother-in-law) to
Apollo’s temple to determine how Oedipus can rescue his city.
Creon’s message: they must drive out the problem from the city, which is ingrained.
They must banish or kill the person that holds the city in the plague.
The Gods’ command that the man who murdered Laius (the previous King) must be
killed (avenge death?)
All of Laius’ servants were murdered except one who fled in terror.
Tiresias (blind prophet) seems hesitant to tell Oedipus what he foresees.
Foreshadows bad news for Oedipus. Line 320: “Let me go home. It will be easiest
for us both to bear our several destinies to the end if you will follow my advice”
Oedipus continues to get angry with Tiresias for being secretive. Accuses him of
betraying the citizens and destroying the city. Oedipus taunts him stating “Had you
had eyes I would have said alone you murdered him” (Line 348-349)
Tiresias finally reluctantly admits that he knows of Oedipus’ true lineage (he