Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus [Oedipus the King]

Bernhard Zimmermann (Universität Freiburg)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

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


, the


(the curse of Oedipus, the fraternal feud, the march of the Seven against Thebes) and the


(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


11.217ff.); 3. the blinding of Oedipus and the curse on his sons Eteocles and Polyneices, and 4. these brothers’ battle against each other which ends in their mutual…

2799 words

Citation: Zimmermann, Bernhard. "Oedipus Tyrannus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 October 2011 [, accessed 25 May 2024.]

3153 Oedipus Tyrannus 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.