Oedipus Rex Questions and Answers
by Sophocles

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What is the reason for the plague in Thebes in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex?

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Oedipus the King opens with a priest describing the terrible plague that has come upon Thebes and begging Oedipus for help. Oedipus replies that he is more eager than anyone to find out the cause of the pollution and remove it. Each man in the city grieves for himself, but the king grieves for the city and everyone in it. He has already sent Creon to ask the Delphic Oracle's advice. Almost as soon as he has said this, Creon returns and tells the story which is to lead Oedipus to the truth, and to the conclusion that it would have been better for him never to have been born.

Much of the fascination of the play comes from watching Oedipus, the remorseless detective, hunt down Oedipus, the unwitting criminal. The story would have been a familiar one to Sophocles 's audience. It was a popular subject for drama, and Sophocles himself wrote other plays about it. The audience is not surprised, therefore, but is watching Oedipus intently for the dawning realization that he himself is the source of the...

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