Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Oedipus Rex Study Guide." Course Hero. 10 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Oedipus-Rex/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2016, August 10). Oedipus Rex Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Oedipus-Rex/

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Oedipus Rex Study Guide." August 10, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Oedipus-Rex/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Oedipus Rex Study Guide," August 10, 2016, accessed December 11, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Oedipus-Rex/.

Oedipus Rex | Episode 2 | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

Creon, who is at heart a decent and kind man, is horrified that Oedipus has accused him of getting Teiresias to lie so he can grab the throne. He insists that he does not want the throne or the responsibilities that come with it. He is happy to have the benefits of being part of the royal family without having to make the decisions that go along with ruling a city. He asserts that he does not know what Teiresias is talking about. He challenges Oedipus to consult the oracle at Delphi to prove his innocence, but Oedipus wants to either kill him or banish him from the city for treason. Creon offers to die if he is lying, but he stands by his oath that he had nothing to do with Teiresias's claims.

Jocasta, Oedipus's wife, comes in and begs Oedipus to trust Creon's oath before heaven, admonishing both men for stupidly arguing when there are people in the city dying from the plague. Oedipus reluctantly agrees with her and sends Creon out of the palace without punishing him. To comfort her husband, Jocasta tells Oedipus that prophecies are not always true, and she offers an example. She tells Oedipus of a prophecy that a son of hers with Laius would kill his father and marry his mother. She says Laius pinned the child's ankles together and put him in the wilderness to avoid the prophecy coming true. Therefore, she assures him, the child is dead. She also says Laius was killed at a place where three roads meet by a band of robbers, not by his son, so the prophecy never came true.

Oedipus is nervous and upset as he recognizes the description of the crossroads and the circumstances of Laius's death. He asks Jocasta to send for the remaining witness of Laius's death, a slave. He tells Jocasta about his parents in Corinth, but he says a drunk man told him they are not his real parents and he could not live with that knowledge. He relates how he crept away from his home to visit the oracle without his parents knowing about it, but he did not receive an answer about them. Instead, Oedipus received the same prophecy Jocasta has revealed: that he would bed his mother and kill his father. Oedipus ran away from Corinth to escape the prophecy, never to return to his parents.

On the way to Thebes, Oedipus says he met with a guide and a man riding in a carriage, and the guide tried to run him off the road. The old man in the carriage hit him, and he struck back with a vengeance, killing the old man as well as almost all of the others in the entourage. Oedipus asks Jocasta whether there are any remaining witnesses to Laius's murder, and Jocasta tells him of the slave who was also a shepherd. Jocasta sends for the slave but insists that everything will be fine because the slave said it was a band of robbers who killed Laius, and she and Laius also got rid of their son.

Analysis

This episode reveals how unreasonable and quick-tempered Oedipus can be, a flaw that has caused him to make bad decisions in the past. Incapable of self-examination, he throws the blame on a man who is known to be noble and honest, a man whom he calls brother and friend. He even accuses Creon of the murder, asking him how he can be so bold as to show up at the palace, "you who are obviously the murderer of the man whose house it was, a thief who clearly wants to steal my throne?" Creon shows that, although he is noble, honest, and kind, he is also a man who would rather lead a comfortable life without the stresses of kingship. Oedipus stubbornly refuses to listen until his wife steps in and objects to their argument, chastening Oedipus. Jocasta has the power to stop Oedipus from being unreasonable.

There are also a number of clues in this episode that Oedipus and Jocasta are in serious trouble. The fact that Oedipus is nervous and upset tells the audience that he suspects he has done something awful, but he does not catch on that this is the first part of the prophecy he received from the oracle. He simply worries that he has killed Laius and then married Laius's widow, which he rightly believes was immoral. If this murder is what has caused the plague in the city, and if he is the murderer, he is the cause of the plague. His determination to uncover the truth shows that, although he is a proud man, he is also capable of trying to act morally.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Oedipus Rex? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!