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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oedipus is the king of Thebes, the classic tragic hero of Sophocles's "Oedipus Rex."  The protagonist of a play written around 430 B.C., Oedipus learns that his city is beset by a plague. So, he sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.  When Creon returns, Oedipus learns that the plague is on the city because of the killer of the former king, Laius.  Oedipus vows to learn the meaning of the Oracle's words and soon discovers that what he has refused to believe is true:  he is the murderer of Laius.  In addition, Oedipus learns that it is he who has murdered Laius.  The curse is on the city because of him.  And, ashamed that he was so proud, ashamed of his tragic mistake, Oedipus puts out his eyes and punishes himself by sending himself away.

For Sigmund Freud, the psychologist, the fate of Oedipus represents the fate of every man: the Oedipus Complex is the definitive child-parent relationship. This myth of Oedipus has been drawn upon by writers throughout history.