Oedipus Rex Questions and Answers
by Sophocles

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Is Oedipus guilty or innocent of the crime of killing his father and marrying his mother?

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Well, yes, technically speaking, Oedipus did kill his father and marry his mother. Yet, as sordid as that all appears, it is not as simple a matter as contemporary references to the character would suggest. In Sophocles's play Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King, the titular figure is orphaned at a very young age through an act of his father, Laius, and does not know the identity of his parents until the ugly deeds are done years later. Laius was the king, but was killed by an individual who, it turned out, was Oedipus now grown up. Learning from Creon , the fate of the dead king, and guided by the knowledge that it had been prophesied that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, Oedipus is slowly but steadily driven insane by the growing awareness of his guilt. Well before that awareness, however, he is determined to avenge his father's death, unaware of his role in bringing about that death. As he declares to Creon, "Whoever he was that killed the king may readily wish to...

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