CC 1.1 FINAL REVIEW SHEET
The protagonist of
Oedipus the King
Oedipus at Colonus.
king of Thebes before the action of
Oedipus the King
begins. He is renowned for his
intelligence and his ability to solve riddles—he saved the city of Thebes and was made its
king by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, the supernatural being that had held the city
captive. Yet Oedipus is stubbornly blind to the truth about himself. His name's literal
meaning (“swollen foot”) is the clue to his identity—he was taken from the house of
Laius as a baby and left in the mountains with his feet bound together. On his way to
Thebes, he killed his biological father, not knowing who he was, and proceeded to marry
Jocasta, his biological mother.
Oedipus's wife and mother, and Creon's sister. Jocasta appears only in the final
scenes of Oedipus the King. In her first words, she attempts to make peace between
Oedipus and Creon, pleading with Oedipus not to banish Creon. She is comforting to her
husband and calmly tries to urge him to reject Tiresias's terrifying prophecies as false.
Jocasta solves the riddle of Oedipus's identity before Oedipus does, and she expresses her
love for her son and husband in her desire to protect him from this knowledge.
Oedipus's brother-in-law, Creon appears more than any other character in the
three plays combined. In him more than anyone else we see the gradual rise and fall of
one man's power. Early in
Oedipus the King,
Creon claims to have no desire for kingship.
Yet, when he has the opportunity to grasp power at the end of that play, Creon seems
quite eager. We learn in
Oedipus at Colonus
that he is willing to fight with his nephews
for this power, and in
Creon rules Thebes with a stubborn blindness that is
similar to Oedipus's rule. But Creon never has our sympathy in the way Oedipus does,
because he is bossy and bureaucratic, intent on asserting his own authority.
Tiresias, the blind soothsayer of Thebes, appears in both Oedipus the King and
Antigone. In Oedipus the King, Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts,
and Oedipus does not believe him. In Antigone, Tiresias tells Creon that Creon himself is
bringing disaster upon Thebes, and Creon does not believe him. Yet, both Oedipus and
Creon claim to trust Tiresias deeply. The literal blindness of the soothsayer points to the
metaphorical blindness of those who refuse to believe the truth about themselves when
they hear it spoken.
Colonus, a village near Athens, was the place of Sophocles' birth, and the
date, 495 B.C., thus making him thirty years younger than
and fifteen years