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SUMMARY OF KING OEDIPUS Oedipus comes out of the palace and finds a group of citizens.

. A priest asks him to help them get rid of the terrible plague which has hit Thebes. Oedipus cares deeply for his people and has a great deal of sympathy for them. Their trust in him is clear as he has saved them before. He has already sent Creon, his brother-inlaw, to the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi to find out what must be done from the Pythia (priestess of Apollo). Creon enters and says the Oracle has revealed the cause of the plague, Thebes is defiled because of the murder (some time ago) of the last king, Laius. The killer must be found and exiled from the city. Oedipus pledges himself to find and punish the murderer, saying it is his duty, not only to Thebes, but to the memory of Laius, his predecessor and former husband of his wife, Jocasta. The only information that Oedipus has now is that the sole surviving witness said that Laius was killed by a band of thieves. The chorus of citizens enters, praying to the gods to release them from the plague. Oedipus calls on the murderer to reveal himself, or to anyone who knows any information to come forward. He has already sent for Tiresias, the blind prophet to interpret the word s of the Oracle. Tiresias is led in reluctantly and announces that he knows nothing. Oedipus gets angry and suggests that perhaps Tiresias had something to do with the murder. Tiresias is forced to comment to defend himself and reluctantly he tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he seeks. Oedipus is furious and assumes that there is a conspiracy against him by Creon and Tiresias. He loses his temper, hurls abuse at Tiresias and orders him away. The chorus ofcitizens reassure themselves of Oedipuss innocence. They fully support him. Creon now arrives and hotly denies any conspiracy against Oedipus. But Oedipus is too angry to be convinced. He threatens Creon. Jocasta enters and tries to patch up the

argument. Oedipus relents, but with bad grace. When Creon leaves, Oedipus relates Tiresiass accusation. Jocasta is dismissive of the truth of oracles and prophecies. To reassure Oedipus, she tells him of an oracle from way back when she and Laius had a baby. The prophecy said that Laius would be killed by his own son, so the child was abandoned on Mt Cithaeron and died. She mentions that Laius was killed, on his way to Delphi, by thieves at a place where three roads meet, this startles Oedipus who now remembers an incident from some time back when he killed a man at such a place. He asks that the one surviving witness (who had asked to be sent from the city long ago) be called to explain what happened. Oedipus then tells the story of why he left Corinth as a young man, having heard a rumour from a drunk at a feast that Polybus and Merope were not his real parents. He went to the Oracle at Delphi where he was given the awful word that he would sleep with his mother and kill his father. He ran as far as he could from Corinth to avoid this fate. It was on his way that he had the row with a man at Phocis and killed him. He is afraid this was Laius, but places his hopes in the band of thieves story. He leaves. The chorus now sings an ode in praise of humility and reverence towards the gods and oracles. Too much pride (hubris) is dangerous and will lead to a fall. Jocasta makes offerings to an altar and then a messenger arrives from Corinth with the news that Polybus is dead. Oedipus returns and is very pleased with the news, Jocasta is triumphant about the uselessness of prophecies. Oedipus is, however, still anxious about his mother. The messenger, imagining he is putting his mind at rest, reassures him that his real parents are not Polybus and Merope. He explains how Oedipus was given to him as a baby with his feet bound. Jocasta begs Oedipus to go no further but he assumes that she is being snobbish and she rushes into the palace, distraught.

The chorus sings a joyful ode wondering about the origins of Oedipus, maybe he is the son of someone divine? The old shepherd, key to everything, now arrives, slow to come in and slow to speak. Oedipus gets angry and threatens him. Finally he admits that he disobeyed orders to kill the baby and handed him over to the shepherd from Corinth. The awful truth comes out. Oedipus rushes into the palace. The chorus sings an ode about the awful fate that can await even the best among men. Then a messenger comes from the palace with a description of how Oedipus rushed in to the palace, looking for a sword, he found Jocasta hanging above the bed, pulled her down gently and then gouged out his own eyes with her brooches. The blind Oedipus stumbles out of the palace, suffering intensely, lamenting his fate and terrible deeds he has committed. He cannot bear to see anything. Creon enters, banishes Oedipus and lets him hug his daughters, Antigone and Ismene one last time. Final choral ode Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.