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Greek Mythology- Oedipus

Updated on April 29, 2012

One of the most well known Greek mythologies is Oedipus, King of Thebes, the man who kills his father and marries his mother. The child of Laius and Jocasta, Oedipus was destine to kill his father and marries his mother as predicted by the oracle ofDelphi. Upon hearing this prediction, Laius (king ofThebes) pin his infant son’s leg together and gave him to a servant to be dispose. Unable to do the deed, the servant gave Oedipus to a herdsman. This herdsman gave Oedipus to another herdsman until he reach the house of Polybus, the king of Corinth. Polybus and his wife, Merope, had no children of their own, so they adopted Oedipus and name him after the swelling in his legs.

Truth Comes Out

The King and Queen of Corinth raise Oedipus as if he was their son. But during a public feast, a drunken man reveals that Oedipus was adopted. Told to ignore the man by his parent, the though of him being adopted linger in his head. Oedipus travel to the oracle of Delphi to gain guidance but instead it was reveal that he would kill his father and marry his mother.

Oedipus explain his answer to the Sphinx
Oedipus explain his answer to the Sphinx


Shock and determined to prevent this, Oedipus travel to Thebes instead of returning home to whom he think is his parent. On his way to Thebes, Oedipus meets a carriage traveling in the opposite direction. The driver of the carriage attempts to strike Oedipus to get him to move out of the. In self defense, Oedipus kill the driver, unknowingly he just kill his own father, thus completing half of the prophecy.

Continuing his journey toThebes, he meets the Sphinx. The Sphinx guards the entrance to Thebes where it would ask a riddle. Anyone who answer correctly would be allowed to pass and those that answer incorrectly was eaten. The Sphinx ask Oedipus to solve this riddle, “which creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three in the evening?”. To which Oedipus replied, “Man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, walk on two as an adult, and walks with a cane in his old age”. Bested by Oedipus, the Sphinx killed itself.

Grateful for lifting the curse of the Sphinx, the city of Thebes name Oedipus king. He marry the recently widow queen, Jocasta. Thus, he unknowingly completed the prophecy.

Depending on whom you read the ending can be completely different.

Sophocles-Oedipus the King

According to Sophocles’ tragedy, “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus has been married to Jocasta for many years and had 4 children. During his reign, a great plague ravages Thebes. Determine to figure out the reasons, Oedipus sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to the oracle of Delphi. Creon returns with the answer from the oracle: the city is unclean with the murder of the previous king and until the murderer is found, the plague will continues.

Oedipus calls the blind prophet, Tiresias, to help him solve the case. But when Tiresias refuse to help, Oedipus became enrage and forced the answer out of Tiresias. It was revealed that it was Oedipus that kills Laius. Refusing to believe this claim, Oedipus accuse him and Creon of usurping the throne.

Then news appears that Polybus had just died. The messenger also reveals that Oedipus was adopted. Upon hear the news, Oedipus sends for the men who were suppose to kill Laius’ son. Ironically, they were the same men that were guarding the Laius’ carriage when Oedipus kills him. It was eventually reveal that Oedipus killed his father and marry his mother. Jocasta, run inside her dressing room and kill herself. Oedipus follows her and uses her hairpin to gouge his eye out. He is exile by Creon.

The other story of Sophocles tells the story of Oedipus’ son.


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    • avan989 profile image

      avan989 5 years ago from maryland

      Thx for reading my article. The story of Oedipus actually varies slightly from sources to sources. In some version, Oedipus does kill himself. But since Sophocles' trilogy is probably the most famous one, I went with that. Regardless of the source everyone agree he is the guy who "kill his father and marry his mother".

      Also vote for my articles "twelve night-An analysis of Feste..." as hubnugget. Here is the link. . Yay! :)

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      I read about the Oedipus story many years ago back in grade school, and thanks to you I've been reacquainted with the full story, and I always remembered though as you've said early in your hub, the tale is one of the most well known worldwide, also known as the Oedipus complex in psychology.

      Nicely written, and I'm going to be following you for now on, I sense your level as a writer is pretty darn high, judging by the reading of this hub here. Awesome work, and also welcome to hubpages.

      Thanks for sharing with us, and reading one of my hubs recently as well. Voted up and getting shared outside of hubpages & pinned up to.