Myth of Oedipus: The Fulfillment of a Prophecy

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O oedipus myth is a narrative present in the Greek mythology which was told by several authors, but which had its most popular version in the playwright Sophocles' version. It is a narrative about Oedipus and the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. As he was abandoned by his parents, the King and Queen of Thebes, and adopted by the King and Queen of Corinth, years later, not knowing he was born in Thebes, the prophecy was fulfilled.

See too: Norse Mythology — the set of mythical stories of the Viking peoples

Topics in this article

  • 1 - Summary of the Oedipus myth
  • 2 - Who was Oedipus?
  • 3 - What is the myth of Oedipus?

Summary of the Oedipus Myth

  • The Oedipus myth is one of the most traditional in Greek mythology.

  • Its most popular version was narrated by the Greek playwright named Sophocles.

  • The story of Oedipus narrated by Sophocles is part of a trilogy composed by Oedipus the King, Antigone and Oedipus in Colon.

  • Oedipus received a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother.

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  • After years, the prophecy was fulfilled, and Oedipus, in despair, pierced his own eyes and began to wander like a beggar.

Who was Oedipus?

Character in Greek Mythology, Oedipus is found in the tragedy written by Sophocles, Greek dramatist, in the 5th century BC. Ç. This version of the Oedipus myth is the best known in Greek mythology, but there are fragments of this character's story that are mentioned by other ancient Greek authors.

Oedipus is part of a trilogy written by Sophocles composed by Oedipus the King, Antigone and Oedipus in Colonus. In Greek myths, he was known to be the son of Laius, king of Thebes, and his wife, named Jocasta. Oedipus' life changed radically because of a prophecy his father had received. The myth narrated by Sophocles tells the fulfillment of this prophecy.

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What is the Oedipus myth?

The myth starts with athe prophecy that Laius and Jocasta, father and mother of Oedipus, receive from the oracle at Delphi. According to the prophecy, Laius would be killed by his son and Jocasta would be married by him, which would result in the end of the royal house that ruled the city of Thebes. Thus, Oedipus' parents decide to end the life of their son, Prince of Thebes.

Laio and Jocasta hand the child over to a servant so that hegive an end to him, but the servant didn'tThez that. This servant decides to leave the child tied by the feet to a tree somewhere between the cities of Thebes and Corinth. The child is found by a peasant and taken to Corinth, where he is adopted by Polybus, king of that city.

Years later, visiting the Delphic oracle, Oedipus receives the same prophecy: that he would kill his father and that he would marry his mother. Fearful upon receiving this prophecy, Oedipus decides to leave Corinth and head towards Thebes.On the way to Thebes, findThe his biological father with a servant.

Laius was heading towards the oracle to talk about omens he had received that his day of death was approaching. At that meeting, Laius and his servant fell out with Oedipus by demanding that he leave the road for them to pass. When attacked, Oedipus is seized by fury and murders Laius and the servant. With this, part of the prophecy is fulfilled.

Oedipus and the Sphinx

After murdering Laius, unaware that he had killed his own father, Oedipus goes on his way and findTheThebes being harassed by sphinx, a mythological being who killed everyone who crossed his path and could not solve his riddle.

Oedipus then decideand answer the riddle from the sphinx. The question the sphinx asked was the following |1|:

“What animal walks on four feet in the morning, on two in the afternoon, and on three at night?”

Oedipus' reply was:

“It is the human, who crawls in childhood, walks upright in youth and with the help of a stick in old age.”

Seeing your riddle deciphered, the sphinx é taken by shame and commit suicide then. The people of the city of Thebes are so grateful that Oedipus has rid them of the sphinx that they decide to crown Oedipus their king. Upon being crowned king, Oedipussee in if marry Laius' wife, Queen Jocasta, his mother.

Read too: Minotaur — a creature present in Greek mythology that fed on humans

Outcome of the Oedipus Myth

Oedipus was unaware that he was marrying his birth mother, as he believed his mother resided in Corinth. Therefore, the oracle's prophecy comes trueThe,and Oedipus has four children by his mother: Eteocles, Ismenia, Antigone and Polyneices.

Years later, the city of Thebes begins to suffer from a plague, and Oedipus is informed by a soothsayer named Tiresias that he was responsible for the tragedy. With this, it is revealed to Oedipus that he was not the son of the king of Corinth, but the son of Laius, the king of Thebes. Thus, Oedipus realizes that the prophecy was complete.

In shock, Jocasta, mother and wife of Oedipus, commits suicide, and Oedipus pierceThe the two eyes, going blind. In addition, Oedipus abandons the throne of Thebes and starts to wander, far from the city, living as a beggar.


|1| BULFINCH, Thomas. The Golden Book of Mythology. Rio de Janeiro: Ediouro, 2006, p. 128.

By Daniel Neves Silva
History teacher

Would you like to reference this text in a school or academic work? Look:

SILVA, Daniel Neves. "Myth of Oedipus"; Brazil School. Available in: Accessed on August 26, 2022.

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