Part I-Detailed Summary of Oedipus Rex, a play by Sophocles



The play begins in the court of Oedipus, the king of Thebes, while he addressing the awe stricken people of his country. They are all dying. The priest speaks to Oedipus that all their ships engulfed by tempests while in the sea and on land plague has hit them. He reminds him of the great deed of defeating the Sphinx and requests Oedipus: "O Lord and Chief, We come to thee again; we lay our grief On thy head, if thou find us not some aid". He asks him to help them return to the happy state they were in:

"Shall they that tell of thee hereafter tell
By him was Thebes raised up, and after fell!"

We find Oedipus a very caring and loving king for his nation:

"For your sake I have wept, and many ways
Have wandered on the beating wings of thought."

He tells them of dispatching Creon, his brother in law, to Apollo's House in Delphi for seeking guidance. During this conversation Creon appears. Oedipus is anxious for the message:

"Speak forth to all! The grief that these men bear
Is more than any fear for mine own death."

Creon reads that God wants them to find out the murderer of the old king Laius. Oedipus is upset that how do they find the killers of such an old incident. Creon tells him that they hear their king was killed by robbers and due to the Sphinx they could not think of revenge of the old king. Oedipus vows to:

"It falls on me then. I will search and clear
This darkness."

He promises to obey the command of God.

The Chorus relates the affliction caused upon the people of Thebes; they talk about dying children, women and young men. They pray for the relieving of their nation.

Oedipus declares that anybody having any knowledge or even involvement in the murder of king Laius, should just come forward and admit; he would be sent out of the country unharmed. Oedipus is dismayed that the killer of the old king was not followed. He takes the charge to find the killer on himself because it is Oedipus that has replaced him:

"his crown is on my brow,
His wife lies in my arms, and common fate"




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