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Oedipus at Colonus

Oedipus at Colonus
ARGUMENT
Oedipus, the blind and banished King of Thebes, has come in his wanderings to
Colonus, a deme of Athens, led by his daughter Antigone. He sits to rest on a rock just
within a sacred grove of the Furies and is bidden depart by a passing native. But
Oedipus, instructed by an oracle that he had reached his final resting-place, refuses to
stir, and the stranger consents to go and consult the Elders of Colonus (the Chorus of
the Play). Conducted to the spot they pity at first the blind beggar and his daughter,
but on learning his name they are horror-striken and order him to quit the land. He
appeals to the world-famed hospitality of Athens and hints at the blessings that his
coming will confer on the State. They agree to await the decision of King Theseus.
From Theseus Oedipus craves protection in life and burial in Attic soil; the benefits
that will accrue shall be told later. Theseus departs having promised to aid and
befriend him. No sooner has he gone than Creon enters with an armed guard who
seize Antigone and carry her off (Ismene, the other sister, they have already
captured) and he is about to lay hands on Oedipus, when Theseus, who has heard the
tumult, hurries up and, upbraiding Creon for his lawless act, threatens to detain him till
he has shown where the captives are and restored them. In the next scene Theseus
returns bringing with him the rescued maidens. He informs Oedipus that a stranger
who has taken sanctuary at the altar of Poseidon wishes to see him. It is Polyneices
who has come to crave his father's forgiveness and blessing, knowing by an oracle that
victory will fall to the side that Oedipus espouses. But Oedipus spurns the hypocrite,
and invokes a dire curse on both his unnatural sons. A sudden clap of thunder is heard,
and as peal follows peal, Oedipus is aware that his hour is come and bids Antigone
summon Theseus. Self-guided he leads the way to the spot where death should
overtake him, attended by Theseus and his daughters. Halfway he bids his daughters
farewell, and what followed none but Theseus knew. He was not (so the Messenger
reports) for the gods took him.
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