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The Tragedy of King Oedipus (1) : Oedipus flees home in an attempt to escape a dreadful prophecy, unware that it is following at his heels.
The Tragedy of King Oedipus
Part one

Based on ‘Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome’, by E. M. Berens.

One of the great myths of ancient Greece, the tragedy of Oedipus tells how the King of Thebes and a shepherd boy each tried to evade their destinies, and how their destinies refused to be changed.

WHEN Laius, King of Thebes,* heard it foretold that his baby son would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother, he ordered that he be left outside to die. But a tender-hearted courtier entrusted the baby to a shepherd and his wife instead.

Many years later, the boy they had named Oedipus ran away, for men whispered that he was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. As he went, he bumped into an old man, who haughtily cuffed him into a ditch. Oedipus whirled his staff, and whack! the old man was dead.

Oedipus fled without learning that the haughty old man was Laius.

Creon, the king’s brother-in-law, was sorry to hear the news. But finding the culprit was not as urgent as the fact that he, Creon, was now responsible for the sphinx.* She was a truly maddening creature foisted on Thebes by Hera, who sat by the city gates propounding riddles, and throttling anyone giving an unsatisfactory solution.

* This is the ancient Greek city in Boeotia, a more northerly region of the peninsula on which Athens stands; see Google maps. Another Thebes, Thebes of the Hundred Gates, was at one time capital of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Another ancient Greek city named Thebes lay in Thessaly further north.

* In Greek tradition, the sphinx had a woman’s head and the back parts of a lioness; sometimes she was depicted as having wings. The Egyptian sphinx, famous for the statue among the Great Pyramids, was male.

Based on ‘Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome’, by E. M. Berens.

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Greek and Roman Myths (31) Greek Myths (30) Myths, Fables and Legends (61)

Picture: Via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
In this sculpture by French artist Antoine-Denis Chaudet (1763-1810), the shepherd Phorbas tends the infant Oedipus, entrusted to him by a servant in the court of Laius, King of Thebes. Oedipus was not told that he was the King’s son, and Laius was not told that his strict instructions that the boy be ‘exposed’ - left outside to die - had been deliberately disobeyed.

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