Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Section 2 Summary (lines 245-572)

Oedipus offers to grant the prayers of the people in lieu of the gods. He then pronounces a curse on the murderer (and ironically on himself.) He seeks out the one witness to the murder of Laius, promising no ill will toward him. Oedipus admits to feeling a bond with Laius since they wed the same woman, Jocasta, (shortly after Oedipus killed Laius), and ruled the same city, Thebes. Tiresias, an elderly, blind man who is a revered seer, is introduced, and Oedipus asks him who murdered Laius. Tiresias is hesitant to respond, and Oedipus becomes increasingly aggressive toward him, accusing him of being a traitor and an accomplice to the murderer of Laius.

At the height of their argument, Tiresias finally says it is Oedipus who killed Laius. Oedipus becomes enraged and attempts to discredit Tiresias as a seer, and accuses him of working with Creon to dethrone him so Creon can become king. Tiresias responds by subtly hinting that Oedipus doesn’t know his origins and that Oedipus carries a two-edged curse with him. Before Tiresias leaves, he reveals that Oedipus is the son of Jocasta and murderer of Laius. Oedipus departs before hearing Tiresias's revelations. The Chorus describes the murderer fleeing through the wilderness, hunted by Apollo and the Furies. The Chorus doubts the prophet's claim of Oedipus's guilt—not because the gods are in error, but because the prophet is. The Chorus refuses to condemn Oedipus without further proof.