View Full Version : How does Oedipus die?

Wilde woman
03-07-2009, 08:16 AM
No, I haven't read the trilogy (only Oedipus Rex) but I'm reading about it and find it fascinating. One thing bothers me. Is it ever explicitly stated how Oedipus dies in Colonus? It is implied that he commits suicide, correct? But how? As readers, do we get to see the act? Or are we, like the sisters, not allowed to watch him in his last moments? Are we privileged enough, like Theseus, to watch what's happening in the sacred grove?

03-07-2009, 09:41 AM
Good question. I don't recall him dying. You may want to read through here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus.

There are many different endings to the legend of Oedipus due to its oral tradition. Significant variations on the legend of Oedipus is mentioned in fragments by several ancient Greek poets including Homer, Hesiod and Pindar. Most of what is known of Oedipus comes from a set of plays by Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone.

Wilde woman
03-08-2009, 04:27 AM
Thanks for the link Virgil, but I was talking specifically about Sophocles' trilogy. I know that in Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus supposedly dies, but all wikipedia tells me is that he "died a peaceful death".

I'm interested in how that happened. Did he drink a poison? Did he stab himself? Did Theseus take part in his death or just observe it?


03-21-2009, 02:28 AM
In Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, the death of Oedipus is witnessed only by Theseus (and Oedipus). When it came time for him to die, he was led by a god to the exact site where he should die, and he made everyone else leave except for Theseus. It is never stated how he died, although the presence of many portents and the messenger's description of Theseus' reaction suggest that it was somehow miraculous. It is never implied that he committed suicide. The relevant passage starts at line 1500, especially the messenger report starting at line 1579.

Hope this helps. :)

Wilde woman
04-05-2009, 03:42 PM
Thank you!