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To Laius, King of Thebes, an oracle foretold that the child born
to him by his queen Jocasta would slay his father and wed his
mother. So when in time a son was born the infant's feet were
riveted together and he was left to die on Mount Cithaeron. But a
shepherd found the babe and tended him, and delivered him to
another shepherd who took him to his master, the King of Corinth.
Polybus being childless adopted the boy, who grew up believing
that he was indeed the King's son. Afterwards doubting his
parentage he inquired of the Delphic god and heard himself the
word declared before to Laius. Wherefore he fled from what he
deemed his father's house and in his flight he encountered and
unwillingly slew his father Laius. Arriving at Thebes he answered
the riddle of the Sphinx and the grateful Thebans made their
deliverer king. So he reigned in the room of Laius, and espoused
the widowed queen. Children were born to them and Thebes
prospered under his rule, but again a grievous plague fell upon the
city. Again the oracle was consulted and it bade them purge
themselves of blood-guiltiness. Oedipus denounces the crime of
which he is unaware, and undertakes to track out the criminal. Step
by step it is brought home to him that he is the man. The closing
scene reveals Jocasta slain by her own hand and Oedipus blinded
by his own act and praying for death or exile.
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