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Oedipus at Colonus

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Oedipus at Colonus is the second play of The Oedipus Cycle that takes place between Oedipus Rex and Antigone, but it was the last play written chronologically by Sophocles. It continues the story of Oedipus, who is by now blind and frail, as he travels to Colonus with his daughters.

SummaryEdit

After leaving Thebes for good, Oedipus arrives at Colonus led by his daughter Antigone. Shortly after, a villager notices him and demands he leave, because the location was sacred to the Furies. Oedipus acknowledges this as another fulfillment of the prophecy, which stated that he was going to die at a place sacred to the Furies and give its land power from his burial site. The chorus later appears and urges Oedipus to leave the holy area.

The chorus starts to question Oedipus, and they are shocked to learn that Oedipus was the son of Laius. However, Oedipus justifies the fact that he killed his father not as a crime, but because of self defense. Oedipus requests to see the king of Athens, Theseus.

Later, Ismene, Oedipus's other daughter, arrives to inform Oedipus that Eteocles has seized the Theban throne from his older brother, Polyneices. The brothers are aware that an oracle stated that the final victory will be decided depending on where Oedipus was buried; thus Creon wishes for Oedipus to be buried at the border of Thebes to give his power of the grave to Thebes forever. However, Oedipus harshly rejects his sons for mistreating him, and he allies with the people of Colonus instead.

Meanwhile, because Oedipus has trespassed the holy ground earlier, they request that he perform an appeasement ritual. Ismene volunteers to perform it and leaves. Later, Theseus appears and acknowledges Oedipus as a great man; Oedipus accepts his praise and offers to be buried at the grounds to protect Colonus. Theseus makes Oedipus an official citizen of Athens.

Creon comes begging for Oedipus to come back to Thebes, to which Oedipus harshly declines his request, berating him for his past inflictions against him. Despite this, Creon reveals that his guards have seized Ismene, and he threatens to capture Antigone as well. When Oedipus still refuses, Creon decides to use violent force against Oedipus; the chorus quickly prevents such an occurrence by calling for Theseus. Theseus comes and condemns Creon, while Creon condemns Oedipus. The Athenians are able to subjugate the Thebans and Oedipus reunites with his two daughters.

Later, Theseus informs Oedipus that a stranger has appeared; it is Polyneices. Oedipus vehemently refuses to acknowledge his son's apology, but Antigone convinces him to listen. Oedipus complies, and Polyneices flatters Oedipus, relating both of their conditions to a similar fate. He informs Oedipus that Eteocles has banished him from Thebes, and he plans to attack the city along with his Argive army. Oedipus still rebukes Polyneices for throwing his father out in the first place, and he lays a curse on both of his sons that will result in each other's deaths in battle. Despite Antigone's pleading, Polyneices goes off to battle, and ultimately to his death.

Shortly after, a thunderstorm from Zeus conjures and Oedipus interprets this as an omen that he will die very soon. He brings Theseus and keeps his promises of his burial at Athens.

Oedipus's death is announced, but the site of his burial is to be kept a secret only known by Theseus. Antigone agrees to acknowledge this restriction, and everyone exits Athens.

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