Oedipus Rex: Story, summary, main characters & themes

Oedipus Rex is an ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles that tells the tale of King Oedipus of Thebes which previously performed in around 429 BCE. Oedipus means “swollen foot”  and originated from the Greek word “Oidípous”. The play is a disaster featuring the role of destiny and chance just as the pride which in many cases combine to bring a shocking end much beyond human imagination.

Main characters of Oedipus Rex

Antigone: daughter of Oedipus
Antigone: daughter of Oedipus

Oedipus: tragic hero

Jocasta: Oedipus’s wife and mother, and Creon’s sister.

Antigone: Child of Oedipus and Jocasta

Creon: Oedipus’s brother-in-law,

Polynices: Son of Oedipus and thus also his brother.

Tiresias: the blind prophet of Thebes

Haemon: Creon’s son

Ismene: Oedipus’s daughter

Theseus: The king of Athens

Summary of Oedipus Rex

blind oedipus rex
blind oedipus rex

The play opens with Oedipus, the lord of Thebes, who is tending to the people of Thebes. A horrible curse has happened to his kingdom of Thebes. They have come to approach Oedipus for planning something for salvage them from their misfortune and disaster. Oedipus sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to look for the counsel of Apollo. Creon advises Oedipus that the curse will be lift if the killer of Laius the previous ruler is found and indicted. Oedipus devotes himself to the disclosure and indictment of Laius’ killer. Oedipus starts to talk about with the individuals of his court about the murder of the king. They relate that they know nothing of the murder and the killers. Nonetheless, they told the way that the king was murder close to cross roads when Sphinx had caused death upon them till Oedipus protected them.

Teiresias, the visually impaired prophet

Before long Oedipus is inform regarding Tiresias, the soothsayer by Creon. He can see beyond human information and known to have control over things hidden from mortals. Oedipus looks for him in the court. Tiresias shows up yet doesn’t disclose to Oedipus anything of the killer. Oedipus abuses and accuses him of misrepresentation. Teiresias, the visually impaired prophet, advises Oedipus that Oedipus himself killed Laius. This news disturbs Oedipus, yet his wife Jocasta lets him know not to trust in prophet, they’ve been wrong previously. She gladly relates that the prediction has neglected to work out. Jocasta says she has lost her only child because of a prediction, so she utters: 

“And I will no more turn mine eyes This way nor that for all their prophecies”.

she enlightens Oedipus about how she and King Laius had a child who was forecast to murder Laius and lay down with her. She and Laius had the child killed, so clearly that prediction didn’t worked out, isn’t that so? Jocasta’s story doesn’t comfort Oedipus. 


A messenger lands from Corinth and informs Oedipus regarding the death of his father. Oedipus relates how he fled to stay away from the murdering of his dad. The stranger told to Oedipus that he is the adopted child of the ruler. This puts Oedipus in profound misery and he wishes to go further. His wife and mother, Jocasta, understands the foul play because of destiny and attempts to prevent Oedipus from advancing into the issue yet he would not hear her out. He delves into the issue and is soon arrived at the outcome that he is simply the child of the dead ruler he himself killed.

Oedipus banished

He is the damned that married his own mother and can’t flee from reality. Jocasta understands that she is Oedipus’ mother and that Laius was his father. Astonished at what has occurred, she kills herself. Presently, Oedipus, as well, understands that he was Laius’ killer and that he’s been married to (and having children with) his mom. With dismay and sadness, he gouges his eyes out and is banish from Thebes.

Read about Doctor Faustus: tragic hero, morality and renaissance play here

Also read here what are some important factors causing global warming?

Read here main reasons and solutions for unemployment

Looking for causes and solutions to immigration? Read here

Main themes Oedipus Rex

tragic hero, oedipus rex
tragic hero
  1. fate and free will 
  2. the conflict between the individual and the state
  3. people’s willingness 
  4. sight and blindness


Neither Jocasta nor her servant could force themselves to slaughter Oedipus and he was abandoned to components. There he was found and raised by a shepherd, before being taken in and brought up in the court of the childless King Polybus of Corinth as though he were his very own child. His name’s literal meaning (“swollen foot”). Oedipus proceeds to question a messenger and a shepherd, both of whom have information about how Oedipus was deserted as a baby and received by another family. He would in the end kill his biological father and sleep with his biological mother. The Chorus, alone, mourns Oedipus’ tragic destiny and his doomed heredity.

You May Also Like

More From Author


Add yours
  1. 1

    I have been on the internet lately, looking for something to read and that is how I came across your site and saw this article of yours. So, I decided to see what it says and I find out that it is so amazing. You really did a great work in on your site and the articles you posted on it. You really take your time in writing this article and they are clearly detailed.
    Once again, you are good in article writing and I will be coming back to view more article updates on your site.

+ Leave a Comment