EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE: Plague, devastation, angry gods
ACTION: Oedipus enters from the palace. As he comes to
speak to the people on the steps, he's faced with a
depressed-looking delegation of priests. They have put
themselves in Oedipus' hands. Their gods cannot help
them. He knows why they've come: a terrible plague is
devastating Thebes. Oedipus saved Thebes before, long
ago, when the city was menaced by the Sphinx - a
monster half woman, half lioness – who devoured any
who failed to answer her riddle. Oedipus had solved
the problem, and the Sphinx disappeared. He's not been
neglecting his people, he's sent Creon, to ask for the
help of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Creon appears
and says that the god's orders are to drive out the
corruption from Thebes. He supplies the information
about an undetected crime - the murder of Laius.
According to Creon, the only witness said Laius had
been killed by a band of thieves, the Sphinx forcing
Thebes to concentrate on a more pressing problem of
life and death. Oedipus now promises to reopen the
case of Laius' murder. Oedipus thinks he will be
defending himself if he finds Laius' killer. He is
already committed to a political motive for the crime.
PROLOGOS: (before the Royal Palace in 
OEDIPUS monologue 1-13
PRIEST solo 14-57 
OEDIPUS & PRIEST dialogue 58-86 
OEDIPUS & CREON dialogue 87-132 
OEDIPUS solo 133-146 
PRIEST solo 147-150

EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE: Plague, pleading, flagellation,
wrath of gods
ACTION: As Oedipus and Creon, go into the house and
the priests leave, the Chorus enters. These Thebans
haven't heard Creon's news, or Oedipus' decision to
reopen the case. They are still preoccupied with the
plague, and are still expecting one of their gods to
solve the problem. Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Artemis and
Dionysus are all invoked against the grim god of Death
who is destroying Thebes.

EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE: Hubris, arrogance, blasphemy,
entitlement over the gods
ACTION: Oedipus enters. He says that he will grant
their prayers. He makes a proclamation, telling the
people to denounce the murderer, or for him to give
himself up. The only punishment will be banishment.
But no one comes forward to confess. Oedipus spells
out in more detail exactly what exile will mean: total
social exclusion. He then formally curses the unknown
murderer and anyone who shelters or protects him, even
unwittingly. "Even if he's caught in my own house: may
the curse I pronounced on him strike me." [Irony!] If
Jocasta and Laius had had any children [irony!] they
would be kin to the four children she'd borne to
Oedipus. The Chorus, awed by Oedipus' curse, say they
know nothing - but they know a man who does: the blind
seer Teiresias. Oedipus is respectful, at first,
because he believes Teiresias has the answers that
will save the city. But Teiresias, having arrived,
seems reluctant to say anything because he believes
the truth will destroy him. Oedipus accuses Teiresias
of plotting to overthrow Laius, but not of the actual
murder (but only because he was blind). This enrages
Teiresias, who now reveals that Oedipus is the killer
of Laius, and that he is living sinfully with his
loved ones. Oedipus assumes there's a plot against
him, because nothing else fits the facts (unless
Teiresias' allegations are true ...). The only
"evidence" for Laius' murder as a cause for the plague
came from Creon. He believes Creon has sent Teiresias
to try to frame him, in order to take over as ruler.
Where was Teiresias when the Sphinx threatened Thebes?
That problem needed brains, not prophets mumbo-jumbo,
and Oedipus solved it all by himself. He goes on
mocking Teiresias - his blindness as a prophet, with
eyes wide open for profit. This makes Teiresias forget
all restraint. Teiresias tells Oedipus that he is the
one who's blind, because he can't see the corruption
of his life: and when he does see it, he will become
blind. He hints darkly at the secrets of Oedipus'
marriage, and his parentage. Oedipus accuses him of
talking in riddles. "Isn't solving riddles what you
are good at?" mocks the old man. And he departs,
adding to the "riddle". Teiresias' riddle is cunning.
It says the murderer is a Theban (who doesn't realize
he is), who is brother and father to his children, and
is married to the wife of the man he killed. All this
seems to Oedipus either absurd or malicious. In either
case he is too angry to listen properly. Does Oedipus
think that Teiresias may have heard whispers about the
prophecy he received at Delphi? Impossible, as Oedipus
has told no one until he tells Jocasta shortly; and
anyway, he believes he has avoided the curse by coming
to Thebes.
OEDIPUS solo 217-275 
OEDIPUS & CHORUS dialogue 276-299 
OEDIPUS solo 300-315 
TIRESIAS & OEDIPUS dialogue 316-379 
OEDIPUS solo 380-404 
TIRESIAS solo [freedom of speech] 405-427 
TIRESIAS & OEDIPUS dialogue [prophecy] 428-461 
EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE: Blind faith, ignorance, arrogance
ACTION: The Chorus doesn't think he is guilty. They
saw his triumphant victory over the Sphinx. They are
sure Apollo knows the truth - but doubt whether a man
(even Teiresias) can do so. Nor do they know of any
feud between Polybus' family and Laius': in other
words there's no motive.
CHORUS, the affairs of men are unknowable, except to
the gods; confidence in Oedipus, fear for Oedipus.

ACTION: Creon returns to face the charge that he is
plotting against Oedipus. As Teiresias apparently
never named Oedipus as the murderer at the time, Creon
must have lied about the oracle's answer and bribed
Teiresias to denounce him now. Creon claims to have an
equal share of the power, and to have an unblemished
record. If Oedipus thinks he "fixed" the oracle, let
him check. Oedipus insists that Creon must die for
organizing the conspiracy. Creon is still loudly
protesting his innocence when Jocasta arrives. She's
the link between them: Creon's sister and Oedipus'
wife. Her intervention makes Oedipus back down, and
Creon is allowed to go, his fate unclear, still
muttering about the injustice. Oedipus is now alone
with Jocasta, and reveals his worries. He says how
Creon, using Teiresias the prophet as his front man,
was plotting against him. Jocasta says all prophecy is
bunk - and tells the story of her son to prove it.
Laius, according to Apollo's prophets, was supposed to
be killed by his son: but he was killed by strangers
at a place where three roads meet, a crossroads. The
baby died, exposed with his ankles skewered, on Mount
Cithaeron. But something about this story worries
Oedipus. The mention of the crossroads reminds Oedipus
of his past. He begins to worry, and worry more when
Jocasta describes Laius ("his build was similar to
yours"), and his escort of five men. He asks her to
send for the surviving witness, who (significantly)
had begged to be released from service when Oedipus
became her husband. Now he explains the reason for his
fears, fears that he may have unwittingly been the
killer of Laius, and thus the person whom he himself
cursed. When younger, a drunken fool at a party had
called him a bastard: he took it personally, and
challenged his parents. They were angry at the slur,
and reassured him. But it set his mind worrying – only
the god Apollo could settle his mind for good. And so
Oedipus ran from Delphi, determined never to see his
parents in Corinth again. Did he forget it was because
of doubts about his parentage that he'd gone to the
oracle in the first place? He came to a place where
three roads meet. Alone, on foot, he met a man with an
entourage. When the old man hit him with his goad,
Oedipus saw red, and killed not only the man, but, as
far as he knew, the whole party. But now he believes
it's he who must suffer the punishment he himself had
laid down - to be driven from Thebes in shame. Murder.
At the time, Oedipus was proud to have killed a man
who'd insulted and assaulted him - normal behavior.
But if it was Laius, the act becomes a crime, because
he'd made it one by his own proclamation (in response
to Apollo's oracle)! But there's still hope - if the
old shepherd can be found. If the shepherd confirms
that it was robbers, plural, Oedipus must be innocent
- but if he mentions a lone traveler, then ... he must
be guilty. But Jocasta says it's too late for the man
to change his story - and anyway, Laius' death won't
fit the prophecy, that a son of hers was supposed to
kill him. The couple goes into the house. 
CREON & OEDIPUS dialogue (with Chorus) 513-582
CREON solo 583-615 
CREON & OEDIPUS dialogue 618-633 
OEDIPUS & JOCASTA dialogue [retrospective] 679-770 
OEDIPUS solo [recollections] 771-834 
OEDIPUS & JOCASTA dialogue 835-863

ACTION: The Chorus want the gods to fulfill the
oracles: but their faith in their infallibility is
being shaken. If the gods want people to keep on
trusting them, they must see the oracles are
fulfilled. But will they? Jocasta's blasphemy has
rattled them. The Chorus are devastated by Jocasta's
casual dismissal of the power of oracles. They will
lose their trust in Zeus and Apollo unless the oracle
is fulfilled, and the blasphemer duly punished.
CHORUS: LAW is from heaven; the pride of a TYRANT;
ORACLES. 864-910

ACTION: When Jocasta comes back out of the house,
alone, even she seems chastened - she's off to visit
the temples of the gods! Ironically, she's praying to
Apollo, because her husband is terrified by the
oracles (which came from him). But she is interrupted
by an arrival. This shepherd is not the one whom
Oedipus has asked for (the witness to the crime). This
shepherd has come from Corinth, with a message for
Oedipus. Polybus is dead. Jocasta calls Oedipus out of
the house - to gloat that the second prophecy has come
to nothing, just like the first. Oedipus' father,
Polybus, is dead! Oedipus joins his wife in
celebrating the failure of prophecy. Oedipus should
still be worrying about the murderer of Laius – but
the death of Polybus (of natural causes) has made him
think about the second part of the oracle. He will
never return to Corinth while Merope (whom he still
thinks is his mother) is alive. He still fears the
second part of the prophecy - that he will sleep with
his mother. Jocasta tries to reassure him by saying
it's normal for men to dream of such things, and to
ignore it. Live for the day! But Oedipus will not be
soothed. The messenger overhears, and offers to help.
What is he afraid of? Oedipus tells him of the
prophecy. The shepherd says there's no need to worry
at all, because Polybus was not his father. How, then,
had Polybus come to treat Oedipus as his son? The
shepherd had not found the baby. He was given it by
another shepherd, a servant of Laius. When Jocasta
hears this, she reacts, but says nothing. This is the
moment when Jocasta knows the truth – her husband is
her son. But Oedipus, unaware of what he'll reveal, is
calling for the other shepherd to be brought in.
Jocasta tries desperately to persuade him to call off
the search. She fails screams and rushes into the
JOCASTA & MESSENGER (ex-shepherd from Corinth) 911-949
JOCASTA, OED, MESS. 950-988 
JOCASTA, OEDIPUS,CHORUS ('son of Fortune') 1052-1086

ACTION: The Chorus, too, take this hopeful line –
Oedipus could even be the son of a nymph, with a god
for a father. Why not Pan, Apollo, Hermes or Dionysus?
All may yet turn out for the best!
ACTION: The Old Shepherd has arrived - but it seems he
does not recognize the Corinthian, despite the time
they allegedly spent together on Mount Cithaeron. They
spent three summers together with their flocks on
Mount Cithaeron - the Corinthian with one, the Theban
(as befits Laius' status) with two flocks. The
Corinthian insists the Theban gave him a little boy,
which is hotly denied. He does not reveal his
information until he is tortured and even then
reluctantly. Yes, it was Jocasta herself. But
presumably it was not she who had spiked the baby's
legs - or she would have gotten suspicious earlier
(perhaps she did?) The shepherd explains how he pitied
the baby and saved its life. Oedipus now knows the
truth. The oracle given to him at Delphi has been
fulfilled. He has been cohabiting with his mother, and
has had (4) children with her. He killed Laius, who
was indeed his father. He has committed the two
foulest imaginable crimes. He rushes into the house.
OEDIPUS, MESSENGER II (the Old Servant) 1110-1185

ACTION: The Chorus reflect how Oedipus saved them from
the Sphinx, and how they looked up to him. Now they
wish they had never seen him.
CHORUS: No mortal man is blessed. Alas for Oedipus.

ACTION: A messenger comes out of the house, to report
on the horror inside. He saw Oedipus rush in,
demanding a sword. The messenger tells how Oedipus
crashed through the house with his sword drawn from
room to room, looking for Jocasta. He found her
hanging, already dead. Oedipus grabbed the pins
fastening her dress at the shoulders, and stabbed his
eyes repeatedly. Oedipus enters. The Chorus blames the
gods. Oedipus thanks the Chorus for their compassion,
and for understanding that the gods ordained what he
himself did. According to Oedipus, Apollo ordained his
agonies: foretelling in the oracle to Laius that his
son would kill him and the second oracle to himself
that he'd kill his father and marry his mother. The
Chorus say he would be better off dead. Oedipus
believes blindness is best. He sentenced the murderer
to exile: as a blind man he can no longer rule, and
will be expelled, no longer to see the Thebes he let
down so badly, nor the children he begot in shame. Not
that he doesn't wish he were dead – he wishes he had
died as was intended, on Cithaeron. He thinks back to
his supposed father, Polybus and his real father,
Laius. "The blackest deeds a man can do, I have done
them all." Creon returns, now the ruler. Oedipus would
rather be killed or driven out, but Creon orders the
guards to take him inside. His presence in the light
pollutes the sun. Why will Creon not grant Oedipus'
wish? Creon won't act until he hears from Apollo.
Oedipus is relieved, and pleased in a way, that Apollo
is to determine his fate after all. But isn't it
obvious, he tells Creon, that he was intended to die
on Cithaeron: why not cast him out? But he has a
feeling that he has been saved from death for a
purpose. But he'd like to say farewell to his two
daughters, Creon takes pity, and has Antigone and
Ismene brought in. He embraces them and fears that no
one will want to marry his daughters/sisters. Creon
tells him to let go of them. He agrees that Oedipus
must leave Thebes. Creon's men remove the girls.
Oedipus goes into the house.
OEDIPUS & CHORUS (Apollo is responsible!) 1307-1369 
OEDIPUS 1370-1415 
OEDIPUS & CREON 1419-1523
•EXODOS: CHORUS 1524-1530 
APOLLO AT DELPHI: 'Know thyself!' + 'Nothing in
Socrates of Athens: 'The unexamined life is not worth
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