Key Plot Points
Creon Returns from Delphi: Having been sent to ask the oracle of Apollo for advice about the plague afflicting Thebes, Creon shares with Oedipus and the surrounding townspeople what he learned from the oracle: to end the suffering in Thebes, they must find Laius’s murderer. The former king of Thebes, Laius was killed allegedly by bandits while traveling away from Thebes years ago.
Oedipus Questions Tiresias and Accuses Creon: Committed to finding Laius’s killer, Oedipus questions a prophet of Apollo, Tiresias. Tiresias discourages his inquiry, and Oedipus grows angry, accusing Tiresias of plotting the crime. Tiresias tells Oedipus that he, Oedipus, killed Laius. Oedipus becomes suspicious that Creon and Tiresias are plotting against him, and Tiresias responds with a prophecy foretelling Oedipus’s downfall. Creon tries to convince Oedipus and the Chorus that he already has enough power in Thebes and doesn’t want to be king, but Oedipus threatens him with banishment and death, relenting only at the insistence of the queen and the Chorus.
Jocasta Reassures Oedipus: Jocasta tells Oedipus that sometimes oracles and prophets are wrong. She recounts the story of the son she had with Laius, who was prophesied to kill his father. To prevent this, Jocasta and Laius had the baby abandoned in the mountains by a shepherd; years later, Laius was killed at a crossroads while traveling. Oedipus reacts strongly to her tale, especially her description of the place where Laius was killed. He asks her to send for the sole survivor of Laius’s party, and tells Jocasta about his past: that while he was Prince of Corinth, he had heard a prophecy that he was to kill his father and marry his mother, and while traveling,...
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