Study Guide

Oedipus at Colonus Exile

By Sophocles

Exile

The whole problem of Oedipus at Colonus is that Oedipus is in Colonus. That is, he’s not at home, which is Thebes. He’s been driven out of his home due to a slight snafu in the killing/marrying department, and is now doomed to wander around, blind and impoverished, looking for a comfy place to die. Pretty depressing, right? The loss of his home is one of the causes of Oedipus’ suffering, and the play drives home the pain of that separation. 

Questions About Exile

  1. Why do Creon and Polyneices change their minds about Oedipus’ exile?
  2. Why does Theseus allow Oedipus to stay in Athens, even though the Chorus is afraid of him?
  3. Do you think it would have been better for Oedipus to just die rather than live in exile?

Chew on This

In Oedipus at Colonus, the loss of home through exile is a metaphor for the breakdown of Theban society.

Oedipus’ exile extends beyond his life, affecting even where he can be buried.