The Myth of Œdipus

The Myth of Œdipus

Once upon a time, there was a king who wanted to know his heir's future. Like any other Greek king, he sent a gift to the Oracle at Delphi. He was told that his son would kill his father and marry his mother. After hearing this horrific news, the king orders his servant to kill the baby prince. The servant ties the poor baby onto a tree and leaves him there, letting the child die from starvation.

A few days later a shepherd finds the child, unties him, and gives him to the childless king of Corinth. The Corinthian king is overjoyed that he has an heir, so he adopts the child.

A few years later, the “son,” of the king of Corinth is bored, so he goes on an adventure. While travelling, the prince came to some crossroads, where he met an old man riding in a chariot, and preceded by a herald, who haughtily bade him to make way for his master. Œdipus, used to being treated like a prince, kills the old man without knowing that he was his real father. After killing his dad, the prince goes to a nearby city, where he hears about a sphinx that was blocking the main road and that would only leave if a hero could solve its riddle.

Thinking he was a hero, Œdipus goes to the sphinx and listens to the riddle: “What creature walks upon four feet in the morning, upon two at noon, and upon three at night?” Soon Œdipus has the answer, he tells the fell beast that the answer was man! After hearing this, the creature falls off its resting place and dies.

The people of the city are so happy that the creature was dead that they gave Œdipus the widowed queen his hand in marriage. This queen was Œdipus' mother, but he did not know it.