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What happens to Oedipus' children at the conclusion of Sophocles' Oedipus the King?

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malifor2210 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2012 at 5:19 AM via web

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What happens to Oedipus' children at the conclusion of Sophocles' Oedipus the King?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM (Answer #1)

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Oedipus and Jocasta have four children, two boys (Eteocles and Polyneices) and two girls (Antigone and Ismene). At the conclusion of that play, all four children are very much alive.

At the conclusion of the play, Oedipus indicates that the two boys are grown up and are able to take care of themselves.

 As for my two sons, Creon, there’s no need

 for you to care for them on my behalf—

 they are men—thus, no matter where they are,

 they’ll always have enough to live on.

(Ian Johnston translation)

As anyone who has read Sophocles' Antigone knows, however, Polyneices and Eteocles eventually wage war against one another for the kingship of Thebes and end up killing each other in battle.

As for Oedipus' daughters, Oedipus predicts that life for them will be difficult, that they will be outcasts in Theban society, and that no one will want to marry them due to their father's shame:

When you’re mature enough for marriage,

who will be there for you, my children,

what husband ready to assume the shame

tainting my children and their children, too?

(Ian Johnston translation)

Again, readers of the Antigone will recall that Oedipus prediction is only partially true. Antigone herself does become engaged to marry Creon's son Haemon, but eventually she kills herself before that takes place. Haemon also kills himself not long after Antigone's death.


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