(I’ll try to tell the story very simplified but I hope you’ll get the picture)
Once upon a time there was the King and Queen of Thebes: Laius and Jocasta. They were nice people and loved by the people of Thebes. They were childless though and when it comes to royal families it’s a serious issue. Laius visited the Oracle in Delphi and asked for advice. The Oracle prophesied that they will indeed have a son but he in the future will kill Laius and bed Jocasta (amazing prophecy)! They did have a son. Laius didn’t want to risk it and gave the baby boy to a servant to kill. The servant however didn’t kill the baby (as everybody could guess) but gave it to the Royal Family of Corinth who were childless as well.
On his way to Thebes he finds a crossroad and get’s into an argument with the rider of a chariot not letting him pass first. That rider was Laius, his birth father. The argument led into a fight and led into Oedipus killing Laius. It was self defense for Oedipus, but the truth was that half of the prophecy was fulfilled.
Sphinx. She liked to play games and asked a riddle to the travelers. Those not able to answer the question were simply eaten. Oedipus was the first to answer her and managed to defeat her. The riddle was:
"What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?"
The people of Thebes were ecstatic to discover that they were free from the Sphinx. They thought that Laius was killed by her as well and made Jocasta marry their new hero, Oedipus! As a matter of fact Oedipus and Jocasta had 4 children… (Talk about incest)
Many years later, a terribly plague falls over Thebes. The situation is quite dreadful and Jocasta’s brother seeks the aid of gods by going to the Oracle. The Oracle says that they must find the killer of Laius and either kill him or exile him. Jocasta’s brother, Oedipus and a blind prophet get into a very serious argument. The prophet knows who the killer is. The argument grows severe with Oedipus beginning to think that he might be the killer of Laius and the reason of the plague. At that moment a messenger arrives from Corinth, mentioning that Corinth’s King is dead. Oedipus feels better since the prophecy according to what he knows will not be fulfilled. However the same messenger admits that Oedipus was indeed adopted.
Jocasta realizes who Oedipus is and begs him to stop the search of Laius’ killer. She then goes and hangs herself in the palace. Oedipus in order to verify the stories finds the old servant that gave him to the royal family of Corinth and finds his true identity. Every falls into place and Oedipus realizes that he killed his father and slept with his mother!
In desperation he tries to find Jocasta. He finds her hanged. He takes two pins of her dress and pulls his eyes out to punish himself for all he’s done…
His final act is to say goodbye to his children and exile himself!
They didn’t live happily ever after…
This lovely story is told in Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles. It was written around 425 BC! Unfortunately out of 123 plays he wrote, only 7 are saved.If only more were saved…