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Oedipus Rex | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Years earlier

    Oedipus is born, and his parents order him killed to avoid fulfilling a dreadful prophecy.

    Prologos
  • A few days later

    Shepherd ordered to kill Oedipus gives him to another shepherd, who takes him to Polybus and Merope.

    Prologos
  • About 20 years later

    Oedipus hears a prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother, so he leaves town.

    Prologos
  • A few days later

    On the road Oedipus kills men who threaten him without knowing one is his real father.

    Prologos
  • A few days later

    In Thebes Oedipus defeats the Sphinx, becomes king, and marries Jocasta.

    Prologos
  • Years later

    Creon tells Oedipus that Apollo wants Oedipus to avenge Laius's death to stop a plague in Thebes.

    Prologos
  • Later that day

    Teiresias says Oedipus caused the plague by killing Laius and marrying Jocasta, his own mother.

    Episode 1
  • Later that day

    A messenger tells Oedipus that Polybus is not his real father; Jocasta realizes who Oedipus is.

    Episode 3
  • Later that day

    A shepherd admits he gave the infant Oedipus to Polybus.

    Episode 4
  • Later that day

    Jocasta hangs herself; Oedipus gouges his eyes out and gives the kingship and his children to Creon.

    Episode 5

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Prologos Oedipus, king of Thebes, had arrived in the city as a stranger after the death of King Laius. He was given the crown bec... Read More
Parados The Chorus fearfully sings to Zeus, wondering whether the solution is going to be revealed as some awful thing that has ... Read More
Episode 1 Oedipus orders his people to tell him what they know about Laius's killer. He warns them to bring forth the killer if th... Read More
Stasimon 1 The Stasimon is the Chorus's response to the episode that precedes it. The Chorus sings of its confusion about Teiresias... Read More
Episode 2 Creon, who is at heart a decent and kind man, is horrified that Oedipus has accused him of getting Teiresias to lie so h... Read More
Stasimon 2 The Chorus sings of the power of prophecy and the foolishness of men who try to avoid their fates. It says that, if the ... Read More
Episode 3 Jocasta comes to the altar of Apollo and places an offering there, hoping to stop her husband from thinking about the pa... Read More
Stasimon 3 The Chorus sings of the questions of parentage and birth. It also sings about the gods and who their fathers might have ... Read More
Episode 4 The shepherd is called in and tells Oedipus he is a former slave of Laius. He was a shepherd in Cithaeron, where Oedipus... Read More
Stasimon 4 The Chorus sings that fate is unavoidable and mortals are doomed. It wishes it had never seen Oedipus, even though he sa... Read More
Episode 5 A second messenger comes out from the palace to tell the people, represented by the Chorus, that Jocasta, crying out to ... Read More
Exodos The Chorus sings of the unhappy tale, telling the citizens of Thebes how a powerful man has fallen and how death is the ... Read More
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