Oedipus Rex Summary

924 WordsDec 2, 20124 Pages
The Legend of Oedipus Three of Sophocles’ plays, Oedipus, the King , Oedipus At Colonus, and Antigone, are based on the old Greek legends about Oedipus and his family. Each of these plays can be better read and more fully understood when one understands the tragic consequences that dogged the ruling family of Thebes from the times of its founding father, Cadmus. Although essentially regarded as myths, the incidents in the three plays may have had some basis in facts drawn from ancient Greek history many centuries before Sophocles’ time. Such facts, however, are often distorted by the passage of time and the oral tradition by which they were passed from one generation to the next. Thus, they become part of folklore or legends. Oedipus was a direct descendant of Cadmus through his son, Polydorus. The latter begot Labdacus, whose son Laius was the father of Oedipus. (That is, Oedipus was the grandson of Labdacus who, in turn, was the grandson of Cadmus). All the generations of the Cadmus family suffered a tragic fate in one way or another. When Laius, great-grandson of Cadmus, loses his kingdom to Amphion and Zethus, the sons of Zeus and Antiope, he finds refuge with Pelops, the son of Tantolus. Laius, however, repays Pelops’ kindness in a rather cruel way -- by kidnapping his son Chrysippus. His ungratefulness brings a curse upon Laius and his whole family over the next two generations. Laius gets back his kingdom of Thebes when Amphion and Zethus dies. He then marries Jocasta, sister of Creon. However, Apollo warns Laius that his son will kill him one day as punishment for his abduction of Pelops’ son. In an attempt to avoid the fulfillment of the prophecy, Oedipus’ parents, Laius and Jocasta, give Oedipus to a servant to be taken to Mount Cithaeron, where he is to be deserted. A spike is driven through the child’s feet to prevent him from crawling away.

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