With Oedipus the King, Sophocles created one of the most important plays of Antiquity. Our Interpretation section will mostly discuss the many complexities seen in the main character, Oedipus. The main motifs, such as blindness and the importance of the three prophecies that involve Oedipus, are also considered in detail in terms of their role in the play. 

A section is also devoted to the ancient world of the gods and why their relationship to Oedipus is so important. In addition, we will discuss the themes of guilt and responsibility in connection to the guilt or innocence of King Oedipus in his tragic fate. We will also have a look at the themes of arrogance and tyranny, which explain Oedipus' shift in behavior during the play, especially in connection to Creon and Tiresias.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

The three prophecies of King Oedipus

Oedipus' life is determined by three prophecies. The first was given to his biological parents Jocasta and Laius. According to Jocasta, the first prophecy said that Laius would be fated to die at the hands of his own son. The parents nevertheless conceived a child and believed that they could escape the oracle by abandoning their son. It is only years later that Jocasta receives the news that her husband has been slain by foreign robbers and believes that the prediction of the oracle has not come true. From this, she concluded for herself that one could not rely on prophecies.

The recipient of the second prophecy is Oedipus himself. A drunkard had accused him of having been "foisted" on Polybos, whom Oedipus believes is his father. Oedipus wants to ask the oracle in Delphi what this means, however, he receives no clear answer, but the fatal announcement: 

And he will turn out to be the brother of the children in his house—their father, too, both at once, and the husband and the son of the very woman who gave birth to them. He sowed the same womb as his father and murdered him. (ll. 554-557)

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