Lines 1- 150

The scene opens in front of the king's palace with numerous citizens sitting in attitudes of supplication. After addressing the people in the accustomed manner Oedipus asks the priest what all the lamentation in the city is about. The priest in return illustrates the extent of the suffering and beseeches Oedipus in the name of the whole city to bring deliverance from the deadly pestilence. Oedipus immediately assures his help and shows himself a good ruler in that he had already taken forethought what ought to be done. For he has sent Creon, a kinsman of his, to the Delphic oracle to seek advice from the god what actions he should take to save the city.

Creon enters and delivers the apparently good news. He explains that the god had commanded that revenge must be taken on the murderer of King Laius, Oedipus' predecessor, and that the murderer must be driven away. Creon and Oedipus then recollect the story of Laius' death - his travel abroad on a pilgrimage from which he was never to return. Only one fellow traveller could flee from the scene of horror and reported that a bunch of robbers had killed the king and all the men, who were accompanying him. On hearing this Oedipus was full of ambition and courage that he would shed light on the matter uncovering the murderer and punishing that very man as the god Apollo had demanded.

Lines 151-215: parodos

The chorus, consisting of Theban elders, begins the parodos by singing of their anxiety and apprehension. They call on Apollo, Athena and Artemis for help and deliverance from the pestilence. In the second strophic pair they sing of the horrors of the plague illustrating them with rather visual details and impressions. The last lyric pair is a powerful cry to Zeus, Apollo, Artemis and Dionysus, that they might turn away Ares, whom they suspect to be responsible for all the suffering.

Lines 216-462: first episode

Outside the palace Oedipus asks the citizens if any of them know who the murderer was, whether stranger or friend, or that he, whose conscience was guilty should admit the crime. If someone were to conceal his knowledge, that man would not only be forbidden to seek help from any man in Oedipus' kingdom, but he would also be excluded from all kinds of religious festivities such as prayers, sacrifices or touching holy water. In order to reinforce his solemnity he does not even exclude himself from the severe punishment ("if, with my knowledge, house or hearth of mine receive the guilty man, upon my head lie all the curses I have laid on others" line 249-251). After paying great respect to the dead king in promising that he would fight as if for his own father, Oedipus waits for Teiresias, the blind prophet. Teiresias is a wise man, who has prophetic powers and thus everyone hopes that he would be able to help finding out what had happened at the day of the King Laius' death.

Teiresias indeed knows the secret but is unwilling to reveal it. Only when Oedipus is urging him heavily to speak and even suspects Teiresias to have had a share in the plotting of the king's murder, the truth comes to light. Teiresias uncovers Oedipus for being the murderer. Oedipus can not believe a word he hears and in the heat of anger overconfidently hurls insults and threats at the prophet and for a short time even considers the possibility that his kinsman Creon might have been plotting against him together with Teiresias. Teiresias confronts Oedipus with a superior calmness. He foretells Oedipus' downfall once the truth will become plain to everyone - that Oedipus has in fact killed his father and married his mother.

461-511: second Choral ode (first stasimon)

The first strophic pair deals with the unknown man who committed the sin and where the hunted criminal might be. In the second pair they show some doubts and insecurity as to what they should believe. But even though there is some reluctance in their words they prove themselves still loyal to Oedipus.

513- 696: second episode and first kommos

Creon enters, furious that Oedipus suspected him of having corrupted Teiresias. Oedipus and Creon engage in a heated argument where Oedipus accuses Creon of being a traitor, who sought to become king. Creon on the other hand opposes him with a long speech declaring that he had never wished to become king because he has always preferred to live a kingly life but untroubled of all the responsibility and difficulties of a real king's life. Oedipus in his stubborn foolishness does not give in and is only calmed

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.