Study Guide

Oedipus

  • Profile

    Widely known as "that-dude-who-killed-his-dad-and-slept-with-his-mom," Oedipus is one of the most famous people in all of Greek mythology. (Figures, right? All it takes to be mega-famous is to do something totally messed up.) The thing with Oedipus, though, is that he had no idea that he was doing anything wrong. His parents, King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, abandoned him at birth. Why? Because it was prophesied that he would do exactly what he eventually did. So when he killed Laius on a highway, he thought he was just defending himself against some random angry dude. And when he married Jocasta and became the King of Thebes, he thought it was just an awesome reward for saving Thebes from the Sphinx by solving her riddle. Talk about tough luck.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Oedipus

    Nickname

    That-dude-who-killed-his-dad-and-slept-with-his-mom

    Sex

    Male

    Current city

    Elysium

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Hero
    Riddle Solver
    Sphinx Slayer
    King of Thebes

    Education

    Athena's Academy of Puzzles
    The Fates' School of Hard Knocks

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Ugh, why did I ever get involved?

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    Laius (my dad, who I unknowingly killed… oops)
    Jocasta (my mom, who I unknowingly married and had babies with… extra oops)

    Siblings

    None (I'm not even sure why my parents had me, considering that whole prophecy thing.)

    Children

    Antigone
    Ismene
    Eteocles
    Polyneices

    Friends

    I freak everybody out. Only my daughter Antigone ever stuck by me.

    Enemies

    The Sphinx
    Myself (I caused all my own problems)
    The Fates (who got seriously twisted when they decided on mine)

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Was married to Jocasta. Yes, my mom. I get it.

    Interested in

    I just don't risk it anymore.

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Sherlock
    House (Kind of my hero.)
    Breaking Bad

    Quotations

    "Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object."
    – Albert Camus

    "We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."
    – Tom Stoppard

    "Mama, just killed a man..."
    – "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

    "Mama, take this badge from me
    I can't use it anymore
    It's getting dark too dark to see
    Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door"
    – Bob Dylan

    "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
    – Samuel Beckett

    Books

    All My Sons by Arthur Miller
    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (This book always reminds me of fading away in Colonus.)
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (I know all about it.)
    Endgame by Samuel Beckett (I feel like I was always playing an endgame and never knew it.)
    The Plague by Albert Camus (Kind of like the one I unknowingly caused in Thebes. Talk about embarrassing.)
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    Oedipus the King by Sophocles
    "When I Consider How My Light is Spent (Oh His Blindness)" by John Milton
    The Biggest Riddle Book in the World by Joseph Rosenbloom (Good bathroom reading.)

    Music

    Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
    Wide Awake by Katy Perry
    Oedipus by Regina Spektor
    Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
    Knockin' On Heaven's Door by Guns N' Roses
    I See a Darkness by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
    Hurt by Johnny Cash
    Sweet Blindness by Frank Sinatra (I mostly like this song for the outfits in the video.)

    Movies

    The Dark Knight (Another misunderstood hero.)
    Inception (Okay, this movie confused me.)
    Scent of a Woman
    Citizen Kane (I totally solved the riddle of what "rosebud" means.)
    Final Destination
    The Ten Commandments
    The Miracle Worker
    Ted (Hey, everybody needs to not think sometimes.)

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Sunglasses
    Braille 
    Riddle books
    Rubik's cubes

    Dislikes

    Everything that happened to me?

    Interests

    Riddle-ology
    Enigmatology

    Groups

    Heroes
    Kings of Greece
    Riddle Solvers

  • Spotter's Guide

    Oedipus does not take visitors. You can try to get a meeting with him, but you'll probably just get turned away at the gate of his humble house in Elysium, the city of the blessed dead. The former King of Thebes totally avoids people, because all anybody ever wants to talk about is how he unknowingly killed his father and slept with his mother. Also, he's not too pretty look at, since he gouged out his own eyes when he found out the truth. If you do get a chance to talk to him, though, try to cheer him up, huh? After all, he didn't know he did any of that stuff, and he did save Thebes from the Sphinx by solving her riddle. Poor guy.

    Sex: Male
    Age: Lived to be pretty old (and miserable)
    Build: Fit, then haggard and scrawny by the end
    Complexion: Leathery
    Hair Color: Brown, until it went bone-white
    Facial Hair: Beard, which got long and tangled before he died
    Scars/marks/tattoos: Gouged out eyes (pretty gross)
    Jewelry and accessories: Had a crown, but gave it away
    Clothing: Regal robes, but just rags later in life
    Armor: Nah
    Type of Weapon: Wits

    Typical Companions:

    Antigone (His daughter, who stood beside him until he died)

    Known Hangouts:

    Thebes
    The Wilderness
    Elysium

  • Sightings

    Dec 20, 2019

    Antigone by Sophocles

    It might be the last of Sophocles' Oedipus plays chronologically in terms of plot, but it's the first one Sophocles wrote; check out what happens to Antigone after her daddy dies. (Hint: it isn't a happy ending.)

    Dec 20, 2019

    Oedipus the King by Sophocles

    This is the best play ever... according to Aristotle and a whole bunch of other folks. (We have to say, we think it's pretty awesome, too.)

    Dec 20, 2019

    Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles

    Oedipus dies in this tragedy. Womp womp.

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    Oedipus by Seneca

    The big deal Roman playwright puts his spin on Oedipus' story. (It doesn't get any happier, that's for sure.)

    Dec 20, 2019

    The Metamorphoses by Ovid

    In this famous collection of mythological poems, Ovid tells us all about how Oedipus saved Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx. (Whoa, somebody actually chose to write about the good stuff he did?)

    Dec 20, 2019

    Oedipus el Rey by Luis Alfaro

    This modern Chicano riff on the Oedipus story is set in an L.A. barrio.

    Dec 20, 2019

    These Seven Sicknesses by Sean Graney

    Oedipus kicks off this modernized marathon of all of Sophocles' extant plays.