Lines 1-576

  • It is years after Oedipus is banished from Thebes
  • Colonus, ruled by the city of Athens
    • Athens, named after Athena
  • Oedipus is blind and looks pretty bad, lead by his daughter Antigone
  • Tells her acceptance is a lesson taught by suffering, then asks her to find a place to rest
  • Sees Athens in the distance and decides they are on holy ground, they rest there
  • A citizen tells them to move from their resting place cause it is holy grounds
    • The citizen tells them it is held by the Terrible Goddesses, Oedipus refers to them as Awesome Goddess due to ignorance
  • Oedipus asks for him to send the king, Theseus promising of Theseus proves a small service, great good will come out of it
    • This is explained in his prayer to the Furies
    • He says that in the prophecy where Apollo foretold his fate, he also spoke of this place, the grove of the Furies, as the place Oedipus would die
    • Oedipus says wherever he dies will receive a blessing
    • Oedipus is gonna die soon
  • More citizens search for him, the man who set foot on the grove of the Furies
    • Oedipus steps out of the grove
    • The chorus asks for his name and background
  • Reluctantly, he tells his name
    • The chorus is terrified and tells him to leave
    • This is cause of the curse Oedipus put on himself: Everywhere he went he would not be welcome
    • Antigone asks for the citizens pity and humanity
    • Oedipus says they should not just drive him out because of his name, especially in Athens, a just city and protector of the weak
    • The chorus decides to wait for the king to make the decision
  • Ismene comes
    • Reunites with Antigone and Oedipus after a while
    • Delivers news: Oedipus’s two sons are fighting for control of Thebes
    • The younger son, Eteocles, seized the throne from and exiled the elder son, Polynices
    • Polynices fled to Argos and now is raising an army to attack Thebes, where Eteocles and Creon rule jointly
    • Oedipus’s daughters are faithful while his sons are the opposite
    • Ismene also tells there is a new prophecy from the oracle saying the men of Thebes who cast him out will try to bring him back and that Oedipus’s presence just outside a city would protect that city
    • Ismene tells the sons already know about the prophecy
    • Oedipus asks whether he will get a proper burial which she answers he would not because he killed his own father
    • A proper burial is necessary to go to the underworld
    • Ismene is acting as a spy, snooping around and telling what she hears
  • Oedipus is furious
    • Promises never to return to Thebes
    • His sons never helped him after his downfall
    • Tells the chorus if they defend him from the Thebans, he will choose to die there, giving them a blessing
    • The leader of the chorus appreciates his offer, but says they have to preform a ritual to make the Furies happy cause Oedipus stepped on their land
      • First he must gather holy water from a spring that runs forever, keeping it clean using the bowls of a craftsman with the rim and handles covered with wool just from a young lamb
      • Then he must pour out the 3 holy water bowls facing the east
      • Then he must fill the third with water and honey but no wine
      • Then he will take 27 sprays of olive hand following hand and lay them there with a prayer
      • Ismene says she will go and preform the rites while Antigone will watch over Oedipus

Lines 577-1192

  • The chorus asks him to tell his story
    • He doesn’t want to talk about it
    • Ends up telling that daughters are also his sisters, that he married his mother and killed his father
    • Defends himself saying he didn’t know his true mother and true father
  • Theseus arrives
    • Asks why he is there
    • Oedipus appreciates Theseus strength to the point attitude, not asking to explain his life again and tells he has brought a gift
    • Says if Theseus agrees to bury him at Colonus, Athens will be protected
    • Theseus agrees
    • He agrees to let Oedipus be buried in Colonus, the Thebans wanted to bury him outside the city
    • Oedipus warns he will have to defend him from the Theban people who will try to capture him
    • Theseus asks why he doesn’t like Thebes so much, Oedipus responds by describing his quick exile and how little pity they showed for him
    • Oedipus finished by saying only the gods can be trusted, and they have promised to protect the city he is buried in
    • Oedipus is not happy by how the Thebans want to exploit him instead of letting him back in
    • Theseus says Oedipus can live in Athens or remain in Colonus, saying he is safe and won’t be taken away
    • Theseus upholds Athens’s reputation as a protector of the weak
  • The chorus praises Oedipus’s new home, Colonus of Athens
    • Admires its horses and natural beauty
    • Mentions the favor that Poseidon had bestowed upon it
  • Antigone notifies everyone that Creon is coming with his bodyguard
    • Creon says he comes in peace and tells Oedipus that his whole people summon him home
    • Oedipus goes on a long rant about how Creon wouldn’t exile him when he wanted to be exiled, then when he wanted to come home, wasn’t allowed and now, when Oedipus is happy in Athens, Creon wants to take him again
    • Creon says Oedipus is a disgrace to old age
    • Creon orders his guards to take Oedipus’s two daughters, the Chorus can’t stop him
    • The Chorus tries to block Creon from leaving
    • Creon threatens to forcefully take Oedipus as well
    • Chorus calls for help
  • Theseus arrives with a armed escort
    • Oedipus explains to him what happened
    • Theseus quickly organizes people to chase Creon down saying it is against the law and he wouldn’t do the same to Thebes
    • Upholding his promise to protect Oedipus
  • Creon believes he is not in the wrong cause he still thinks Oedipus is a really bad guy
    • Creon: “A man’s anger can never age and fade away not until he dies. The dead alone feel no pain”
    • Death is happiness, life is suffering
    • Oedipus defends himself saying he was forced to do those things by the gods
    • He praises Athens and calls on the Furies to fight for his cause
  • Theseus orders Creon to take him to the daughters
    • Creon says he will be able to fight in Thebes
    • Theseus promises to get Oedipus’s daughters, Oedipus is thankful

Lines 1193-1645

  • The Chorus is imaging this great fight, predicting that Theseus will have a glorious victory, praying to Zeus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis
  • Once again, because they can’t show gore, Sophocles uses the Chorus’s imagination to make the audience imaging what the battle is like
  • Theseus returns with Antigone and Ismene
    • Oedipus is very happy and asks Theseus what happened
    • Theseus says he doesn’t want to boast and would rather be admired by his actions than words
    • Even more proof he is a good king, contrasting with Creon’s boasting of his military power
  • Theseus reports of a man who wants to talk to Oedipus
    • This man is Polynices, Oedipus’s older son
    • Oedipus doesn’t want to see him but Antigone and Theseus says there’s no harm in listening to him
    • The second person to try to win Oedipus
    • The Chorus sings about the misery of life and bliss of death
    • They talk about the horrors of old age and how its better to die young
  • Polynices weeps to Oedipus
    • He calls himself “the worst man alive” and apologies for not helping Oedipus when he was exiled
    • Oedipus refuses to speak, Polynices begs to Antigone and Ismene to help
    • Polynices says his younger brother, Eteocles, took over Thebes by bribing people and banished Polynices
    • Polynices says he made a army and is ready to attack Thebes, but the oracles say whatever side Oedipus supports will win
    • He doesn’t really care about Oedipus and just wants to win the war
  • Oedipus rails on Polynices
    • Oedipus, after insulting Polynices a ton, predicts he will lose the war and die
    • Polynices asks his sisters to give him a proper burial if he does die
    • Antigone asks him to back down; doesn’t because its humiliating
    • Fatal flaw: pride
    • Oedipus promises Polynices and Eteocles will kill each other in battle
    • Polynices won’t tell his army he didn’t get the blessing
    • Prays that Antigone will have a happy live as long as she fulfills her promise to give him a proper burial
    • Conditional love

Lines 1646-2001

  • Oedipus is going to die soon (thunder)
    • Tells Theseus to not tell anyone where he is buried cause Creon might steal his body
  • A messenger reveals Oedipus is dead
    • Cause of Greek rules, can’t show the death
    • His daughters bathed him with holy water and dressed him with linen (more thunder)
    • Oedipus asked Theseus to protect his daughters
    • Oedipus then just vanishes like he was taken by a god
    • The thunder was a sign that the gods were involved
  • Antigone and Ismene don’t know what to do without their father
    • They ask to see his tomb, but Theseus doesn’t allow it cause his promise
    • Antigone asks for her and her sister to be taken to Thebes to stop the war between their brothers
    • Theseus agrees

References

Campodonico, Christina. “Into the Wild.” LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 11 Aug 2014. Web. 3 Mar 2024.