The New Student's Reference Work/Œdipus

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Œdipus (ĕd′ĭ-pŭs), a hero in Greek legend, whose story is the subject of some of the finest tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. He was the son of Laius, king of Thebes, who, having learned from an oracle that his own son would kill him, exposed him at his birth. He was discovered by a herdsman, named Œdipus from his swollen feet, and brought up by the king of Corinth as his own son. Learning from an oracle that he was to kill his father and marry his mother, he went to Thebes to escape his fate. Drawing near the city, he met the chariot of the king and was ordered out of the way, which brought on a quarrel in which he slew his father, not knowing him. The Thebans offered the kingdom and, the hand of the queen to whoever would deliver them from the Sphinx, who proposed to all who passed her a riddle, putting to death those who could not solve it. Œdipus offered himself, and she asked: “What being has four feet, two feet and three feet and only one voice; but whose feet vary, and when it has the most, is weakest?” Œdipus answered: “Man,” at which the Sphinx threw herself headlong from the rock where she sat. Œdipus thus became king and the husband of his mother. When a plague devastated the country, the oracle promised relief when the murderer of Laius should be banished, and Œdipus learned from a seer that he had fulfilled the prediction of the oracle and killed his father, and for a wife had his mother. In horror he put out his eyes, while his mother hanged herself. He wandered away with his daughter, Antigone, and near Athens was taken from earth by the Eumenides.