The legend of Oedipus – Part 1


In Greek mythology, King Laius of Thebes was still young when his kingdom was usurped. However, some Thebans loyal to the royal family smuggled young Laius out of the city before the attackers could get a hold of him. In due course of time, when the usurpers died due to the passage of time, Laius returned to Thebes and became its king.

He then married Jocasta of Sparta. In the few days that followed, he was visited by an oracle (a prophetic prediction) from the sacred Delphi which told him that he must not have a child with his wife Jocasta, as the child would go on to kill him and marry her.

However as things stood, Laius was completely drunk and fathered Oedipus with his queen. When the child was born, he fastened its feet and left it open to the elements on Mount Cithaeron. Found by some sympathetic shepherds who then handed him over to King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, Oedipus grew into a handsome young man.

As a young man when Oedipus was approached by the Delphic oracle and told that he should not go home as that would result in him killing his father and marrying his mother. Believing Polybus and Merope of Corinth to be his real parents, he made his way to Thebes wanting to avoid going to Corinth.

On his way to Thebes, the road narrowed at a place known to travelers as the ‘Cleft Way’. At this particular point, the road was so narrow that only one chariot could pass through it. It was at this point that Oedipus encountered an old man approaching from the other side. Neither of them wanted to give way to the other and in the ensuing quarrel, Oedipus ended up killing the older man and continuing on his way to Thebes.

Some days ago, the old King Laius was disturbed by some ill omens which seemed to predict that he would die sometime soon. He immediately set off to visit the Delphic oracle to understand these omens better. And as fate would have it, he was accosted by a young man at the ‘Cleft Way’ and in the ensuing quarrel was killed by him.

<< PART 2 >>

18 thoughts on “The legend of Oedipus – Part 1

    • @Gayathri, this is hopefully the first in a series of posts which I regularly intend to publish on the blog 🙂 Keep coming back to the blog for more similar stories 🙂

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