SOPHOCLES: OEDIPUS REX -- A SYNOPSIS 158
- Priest and others ask Oedipus for help against plague.
- Creon, returning from Delphi, says murderer of Laius must be found.
- Oedipus gets information - place of murder, 1 witness, robbers.
- Oedipus promises to hunt murderer down.
Chorus asks various gods for help against plague
- Oedipus asks for information (none is given) and curses the murderer.
- Chorus repeats rumour of Laius being killed by "travellers”.
- Teiresias is called, and refuses to answer Oedipus
- Teiresias says
- Oedipus is the murderer: Oedipus is outraged
- Oedipus' marriage is sinful.
- Oedipus accuses Teiresias of being paid to lie by Creon.
- Teiresias repeats his assertions, and adds subtle hints about Oedipus' parentage.
- Oedipus dismisses Teiresias
Chorus wonders who murderer is.
They decide Oedipus cannot be guilty, at least until he is proved so.
- Creon enters , to refute Oedipus’ accusation against him.
- Oedipus accuses Creon of trying to overthrow him.
- Oedipus questions Creon - why didn't Teiresias say all this years ago at the time of the murder?
- Creon claims that his secondary position is more comfortable than being king: so why should he want to overthrow Oedipus? Bitter argument between Oedipus and Creon.
- Jocasta enters: she and chorus persuade Oedipus to let CREON go away.
- Oedipus explains his attitude to Jocasta
Jocasta "disproves" reliability of divination :
- it was prophesied Laius would be killed by his son, but
- his son was exposed (and "died”) when a baby, and
- Laius was killed by robbers at a crossroads .
- Oedipus question Jocasta about crossroads (he remembers) - he sends for the one witness.
- Oedipus tells his life-story: Corinthian parents; doubts about his parentage; visit to oracle and news of prophecy that he'd kill his father and marry his mother; runs away from Corinth ; kills a man at crossroads.
- Oedipus and Jocasta hope witness will confirm his story of “robbers”
Chorus warns of dangers of arrogance.
They worry about fallibility of Apollo
- Corinthian messenger tells Jocasta of death of Polybus (Oedipus' "father").
- Oedipus enters and hears news: glad that father is dead (prophecy now can't come true), but wishes mother was too - he's afraid he may still marry her .
- Messenger (to be helpful) reassures him: Polybus and Merope are not his real parents;
- Oedipus was given to them by him (the messenger).
- Oedipus questions messenger: discovers that messenger was given baby Oedipus ( wearing ankle rivets ) by a shepherd, who happens to be the one witness of Laius's murder.
- Jocasta realises the truth, and tries to stop Oedipus asking questions;
- She goes out in a panic
Chorus wonder about Oedipus’ birth: is he a child of a god or a mountain?
- Oedipus questions shepherd, who doesn't want to talk.
- Shepherd at last admits Oedipus is Laius’ son.
Chorus reflect on fall of Oedipus, and frailty of human happiness.
- Attendant tells chorus of Jocasta’s suicide, and Oedipus's gouging his eyes out
- Oedipus emerges from palace, blind and bleeding.
Chorus and Oedipus swap moans about the situation.
- Oedipus justifies his self-blinding: he's cursed by his own curse.
- He reflects bitterly on the past, and asks to be taken away.
- Creon enters and takes charge .
- Oedipus asks to be banished, for Jocasta to be buried, and for his daughters to be looked after.
- He commiserates with his daughters, whom Creon brings in.
- Creon agrees to escort Oedipus out of Thebes.
- Chorus reflect again on frailty of human happiness.