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Oedipus Rex Summary: A Plot Overview

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This is a play by Sophocles that is focused on fate, chance, and pride and how they can brew disaster when combined.

Oedipus, Thebes’ king, addresses his people after they have been struck by a calamity that that is causing death in masses. The Oracle has also informed Oedipus that this calamity is as a result of Thebes not punishing the person who murdered their previous king called Laius.

Oedipus discusses this with his people and the court, but no one claims to have any information concerning the murder, except where Laius was killed (somewhere around crossroads).

Tiresias, a seer, is summoned as he was known to see and have knowledge beyond mortals. When Tiresias arrives, he does not provide any information about the killer. Oedipus labels him a fraud. Tiresias responds by blaming Oedipus for the king’s death. In a fury, Oedipus charges Creon and this seer for conspiracy. The seer leaves as Oedipus has the intentions of killing Creon. The queen was a sister of Creon, and she steps in and calms the king down. She reveals that an Oracle prophesied that her son would kill her husband and marry her, but the prophecy had not come true. Oedipus demands to meet the guards who fled while the king was killed.

A messenger from Corinth arrives shortly after and reveals the events of the death of Oedipus father. The man shares that Oedipus was an adopted son to the king. His wife and also mother realizes that digging further will only cause pain, but Oedipus is adamant in finding out the truth. Oedipus finally finds out that he was the son of the king that he had slain. He had also married his mother. He reflects on the seer’s words and contemplates his terrible fate.

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