Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus
Whatever is fated to happen will happen, and it cannot be avoided, wrote Sophocles in 429 BC.
When the king and queen of Thebes gave birth to a son, an oracle predicted their child will kill his father when he grows up. To avoid this, the king punches holes in the child’s ankles, tightens his son’s feet together, and orders one of his shepherds to leave the child to die in the mountains.
Unwilling to carry out the crime, the shepherd gives the child to another shepherd, who gifts the boy to the childless king of Corinth.
When Oedipus (the swollen footed) grows up, he hears rumors that he is not the king’s real son. He seeks the oracle of Delphi to discover the truth, and is told that he will kill his father and marry his mother. To counteract the prophecy, he never returns to Corinth.
Wandering around near Thebes at a crossroad, a man argues with Oedipus about the right of the way. Oedipus gets lashed with a rod, pushed aside, and ends up killing the man. Oedipus travels to Thebes, solves the riddle of the Sphinx, and as a reward, is named king of Thebes and is married to the widowed queen.
When a plague hits Thebes, Oedipus is told the gods are punishing the city because King Laius’ killer remains unpunished while living in the city. When he calls Tiresias, the blind seer, to help find the murderer, the tragedy begins …
About the Author
Dimitrios Kiriakopoulos grew up in Greece near Mount Olympus. He moved to Toronto, Canada, at age 17, and lives there with his wife and two children. Hesiod Theogony 800-700 BC is his other published work.