Can you please summarize the story of Oedipus the King, by Sophocles?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oedipus the King, or Oedipus Rex (Rex meaning king in Latin) is a famous tragedy written by Sophocles around 430 B.C.  It concerns the attempt and failure to escape one's own fate.  Years after Oedipus becomes the crowned king of Thebes through marrying the widowed queen Jocasta, his city starts being destroyed by fires and other plagues.  He sends his wife’s brother, Creon, to the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi to find a cure for their plagues.  From the oracle, Creon learns that the gods are punishing the city because the city still harbors the murderer of the previous king, Laius, and the gods want the people of the city to find and exile the murderer.  Throughout the rest of the play, Oedipus learns from the soothsayer Teiresias that it was Oedipus, himself, who attacked and killed Laius.  Oedipus also learns that King Laius was his own father.  Laius had had Oedipus exiled as a baby because it was prophesied that one day Laius’s child would kill Laius.  Thus, Oeidpus learns that he had not escaped his own fate—he has murdered his own father, married his own mother, and had children with Jocasta out in incest, all which are terrible sins against the gods.  Jocasta upon learning this commits hangs herself, Oedipus scratches out his own eyes and allows himself to be exiled.