Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus [Oedipus the King]

(2799 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 Eteocles and …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Zimmermann, Bernhard. "Oedipus Tyrannus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 October 2011
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]