Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus [Oedipus the King]

(2880 words)
  • Bernhard Zimmermann (Universität Freiburg)

The subject matter that lies at the heart of this Sophoclean tragedy was narrated in three epics on Theban myth that today survive only in fragments or later descriptions thereof: the Oidipodeia, the Thebaid (the curse of Oedipus, the fraternal feud, the march of the Seven against Thebes) and the Epigonoi (the sons of the Seven’s revenge campaign and the destruction of Thebes). Important and sometimes pre-Sophoclean elements of the myth include: 1. the exposure of the young Oedipus with pierced ankles (whence his name “Swell-footed”); 2. the patricide and incest with his mother (already appearing in Homer’s Odyssey 11.217ff.); 3. the blinding of Oedipus and the curse on his sons …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Zimmermann, Bernhard. "Oedipus Tyrannus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 October 2011
[, accessed 22 May 2015.]