Scene summaries


Place: Thebes, palace

Characters: Oedipus, priests, Kreon, children, youths 

Priests, children, and young men are laying laurel and olive branches on the altars. King Oedipus comes out of the palace, and the priest tells him that the people are suffering because of the plague. Oedipus is sympathetic to the suffering of his people. He says he has commissioned his brother-in-law Creon to seek the advice of the Oracle of Apollo. Creon reports that the people can only be cured if the murderer of the former king Laius is found. Oedipus makes a public pledge to uncover Laius’ murderer. 


Place: Thebes, palace

Characters: Chorus 

The chorus implores Athena, Artemis, and Apollo for help and asks for protection. The first pair of stanzas refers to the people laying down branches of laurel and olive. The second pair thematizes the opening speech of King Oedipus and depicts the city's desperate struggle against the plague. In the third pair of stanzas, in addition to Apollo, Artemis, and Athena, the chorus also turns to Zeus to protect the people from the god of war, Ares, who is responsible for the plague epidemic. They also ask Bacchos for help. 

1st Epeisodion

Place: Thebes, palace

Characters: Oedipus, chorus leader (Choragos), Tiresias 

Oedipus urges his people to tell the truth and threatens to punish anyone who withholds knowledge about the whereabouts of the murderer. The chorus leader, representing the people, proclaims his innocence and ignorance. He advises Oedipus to seek further counsel from Tiresias. An argument breaks out between Oedipus and Tiresias as to which of the two could have killed Laius. Tiresias reveals his knowledge of Oedipus and hints that he lives in an illusory world and knows nothing about his true origins. 

1’st Stasimon (ode)

Place: Thebes, palace

Characters: Chorus 

Synopsis: The chorus takes up Apollo's question as to who is the true murderer of Laius. In the second pair of stanzas, the chorus addresses the dispute between Oedipus and Tiresias, clearly disturbed by the accusations Tiresias has made against the king. The chorus insists that Oedipus is innocent. 

2nd Epeisodion (1st part)

Place: Thebes, palace

Characters: Creon, Oedipus, chorus leader, Jocasta 

Creon addresses the Thebans with a speech. He sees himself accused by Oedipus and his reputation in danger. The chorus leader says the accusations took place because Oedipus is angry . Oedipus continues to accuse Creon of having an interest in the king's throne, and Creon rejects the accusations. He claims that he is loyal to Oedipus and to the people of Thebes. Kreon suggests that Oedipus ask the oracle for the truth. However, Oedipus does not want to be persuaded and threatens to kill Creon. Jo...

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