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Oedipus, the King Summary

Uploaded by Galaghard on Jul 22, 2001

Sophocles’ Oedipus, the King is a great representation of Greek tragedy and of the human experience. Within it, he explores the intricacies of human thinking and communication along with its ability to change as more information and knowledge is acquired. His primary focus as the story begins and progresses is the growth of Oedipus from an unintelligible and unenlightened mentality to its antithesis.

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. Most generally it was that it was prophesied that Laios and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, would give birth to a child who would grow up to murder his father and marry his mother. And, fearing the dreadful prophecy, that the parents nailed their first son's feet together (thus the name Oedipus, which means “swollen-foot”) and left him to die on a lonely moun-tainside outside the city. Moreover, that he was found by a wandering shepherd who took him to the nearby city of Corinth where he was adopted by the childless King Polybos and Queen Merope who raised him as a son and prince in the royal household. Then, when he was a young adult and first heard the prophecy, that he assumed that it applied to Polybos and Merope, the only parents he had ever known, and had fled Corinth and wandered around Greece where he met a group of travelers and killed an old man who, unknown to him, was his real father, King Laios. Then, when he arrived at Thebes, he met the Sphinx, a monster who guarded the gates of the city and correctly answered its riddle and was rewarded with the title of king of Thebes and was given the hand of the re-cently widowed queen, Jocasta. The true horror in his life begins here because he has four children with her, An-tigone, Ismene, Eteocles, and Polyneices and fulfills the prophecy.

The story begins after some time after Oedipus has taken the throne and when there is a mysterious plague that sweeps the city. Here, he learns from the priest that the sacred oracle says that the plague will be re-moved only when Laios' murderer is discovered. Consequently, he sends Creon, his brother-in-law, to Delphi to consult the oracles and find out the identity of the murderer. On his...

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Uploaded by:   Galaghard

Date:   07/22/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (542 words)

Views:   1948

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