I have asked pardon for an ill deed done twelve years ago. I should like to end by speaking of a benefit older still, and express something of the gratitude I feel to my old master, Francis Storr, whose teaching is still vivid in my mind and who first opened my eyes to the grandeur of the Oedipus.
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY
Oedipus, supposed son of Polybus, King of Corinth; now elected King of Thebes.
Jocasta, Queen of Thebes; widow of Laïus, the late King, and now wife to Oedipus.
Creon, a Prince of Thebes, brother to Jocasta.
Tiresias, an old blind seer.
Priest of Zeus.
A Stranger from Corinth.
A Shepherd of King Laïus.
A Messenger from the Palace.
Chorus of the Elders of Thebes.
A Crowd of Suppliants, men, women, and children.
The following do not appear in the play but are frequently mentioned:—
Laïus (pronounced as three syllables, Lá-i-us), the last King of Thebes before Oedipus.
Cadmus, the founder of Thebes; son of Agênor, King of Sidon.
Polybus and Meropê, King and Queen of Corinth, supposed to be the father and mother of Oedipus.
Apollo, the God specially presiding over the oracle of Delphi and the island Delos: he is also called Phoebus, the pure; Loxias, supposed to mean "He of the Crooked Words"; and Lykeios, supposed to mean "Wolf-God." He is also the great Averter of Evil, and has names from the cries "I-ê" (pronounced "Ee-ay") and "Paian," cries for healing or for the frightening away of evil influences.
Kithairon, a mass of wild mountain south-west of Thebes.
While Thebes was under the rule of Laïus and Jocasta there appeared a strange and monstrous creature, "the riddling Sphinx," "the She-Wolf of the woven song," who in some unexplained way sang riddles of death and slew the people of Thebes. Laïus went to ask aid of the oracle of Delphi, but was slain mysteriously on the road. Soon afterwards there came to Thebes a young Prince of Corinth, Oedipus, who had left his home and was wandering. He faced the Sphinx and read her riddle, whereupon she flung herself from her rock and died. The throne being vacant was offered to Oedipus, and with it the hand of the Queen, Jocasta.
Some ten or twelve years afterwards a pestilence has fallen on Thebes. At this point the play begins.
The date of the first production of the play is not known, but was probably about the year 425 B.C.
OEDIPUS, KING OF THEBES
Scene.—Before the Palace of Oedipus at Thebes. A crowd of suppliants of all ages are waiting by the altar in front and on the steps of the Palace; among them the