In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Oedipus decides to abandon Corinth, the home of his adoptive parents but why does Oedipus leave Corinth?
According to the story, he leaves for Delphi to consult the oracle about the identity of his parents, and there the oracle divines that he is cursed to kill his father and marry his mother.
To escape the Oedipus curse, he decides against returning to Corinth and rather travels to Thebes. Keep on reading to find out the details of his decision to run away from Corinth.
Why Does Oedipus Leave Corinth?
According to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus leaves Corinth after he was called a bastard by one of the guests at a party. Prior to that, he was under the impression that his adoptive parents, King Polybus and Queen Merope, were his parents but the revelation from the party rattled him.
Oedipus then journeys to Delphi to consult with the oracle and to find out the identity of his biological parents. The Delphi oracle informs him of his tragic destiny – he will murder his father and marry his mother.
To prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy, Oedipus decides to travel very far away from Corinth. However, what the oracle did not say was that Oedipus will cause his own downfall due to his tragic flaw of excessive pride. Following this, Oedipus leaves Delphi and travels to Thebes where he rescues the citizens from the terror of a sphinx by solving a very difficult riddle.
Background Story to Why Oedipus Abandons Corinth
Oedipus was born to Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes respectively. He was then taken to Tiresias the seer at the oracle of Delphi for the divination of his future.
The oracle predicts that he will commit patricide and incest with his mother. To prevent that from happening Laius gives Oedipus out to his servant to kill him.
The servant takes him to Mount Cithaeron where he encounters a shepherd. The shepherd takes custody of the child and hands him over to King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth. Oedipus grows up, learns of his curse and decides to run away from Corinth.
– What Line Does Oedipus Leave Corinth?
In the play, Oedipus Rex lines 1183 – 1184 tell the reader that Oedipus leaves Corinth to avoid his ill-fated destiny.
– Why Did Oedipus Kill the Travelers?
Oedipus killed the travelers because of his anger. On his way to Thebes, Oedipus encounters a group of travelers at the place where three roads meet and kills them thinking they are robbers. What he didn’t know was that his biological father, King Laius, was part of the entourage.
Laius was on his way to consult the oracle at Delphi when he met Oedipus who refused to give way to the king. The king either may have whipped Oedipus or trampled over him which angered Oedipus who fought and killed the king and his men.
– Why Did Oedipus Go to Thebes?
Oedipus moves to Thebes to distance himself from the impending tragedy that was to befall him. He believed in his heart that by moving from his parents, the oracle will be proven a liar. Little does he know that by going to the city of Thebes, he is getting closer to fulfilling his tragic destiny. On getting to Thebes, he sees the citizens suffering from a plague inflicted on them by a Sphinx.
The Sphinx gave out a riddle and any man who failed to answer the riddle was killed by it. Oedipus risks his life by opting to answer the puzzle. He gets it right and saves the people of Thebes from the Sphinx which kills itself. As a reward for his selfless act, the people make him king of Thebes and give him Queen Jocasta as his wife. This, however, marked the beginning of Oedipus’s troubles in the city of Thebes.
– What Does Jocasta Convince Oedipus To Do to Creon?
Jocasta, the wife of Oedipus, convinces him to believe what Creon was saying. Oedipus had been accusing Creon of trying to sabotage his reign by conspiring with other actors to bring him down. This unwarranted accusation did not go down with Creon who confronted Oedipus. To prevent both men from resorting to fisticuffs, Jocasta comes to the defense of Creon by insisting on his innocence.
– What Does the Messenger From Corinth Tell Oedipus?
The messenger from Corinth informs Oedipus of the death of his father and mother king and queen of Corinth. Oedipus had been waiting for this because he was afraid that he might be the murderer he was seeking.
He remembered his heinous crime when Jocasta mentioned that King Laius and his entourage were killed at the place where three roads met. Once the messenger from Corinth comes with the news of the death of Oedipus’ parents, he enjoys a temporary reprieve.
– Why Does Oedipus Blind Himself?
Oedipus blinded himself because of the realization of fulfilling the prophecy. The messenger reveals that King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth were not the biological parents of Oedipus.
He tells Oedipus that he was found as a baby on Mount Cithaeron and given to Polybus and Merope for his upbringing. With this revelation, Oedipus finds out that he had fulfilled the prophecy of murdering his father and marrying his mother and goes ahead to blind himself.
We’ve been looking at the popular question of why Oedipus left Corinth. Here is what we’ve discovered so far:
- Oedipus abandons Corinth to get away from the curse that was pronounced on him at birth that he will kill his father and marry his mother.
- On his way, he meets King Laius who he kills out of anger.
- He goes on to Thebes and saves the people from the terror of the Sphinx and they make him king.
- He marries Jocasta, the wife of Laius and has children with her.
- He later realizes that the man he killed out of anger was his father and the woman he is married to is his mother thus the curse has come to pass.
Though Oedipus tries to escape the prophecy, it comes to pass albeit with his involvement. Maybe if he had stayed in Corinth the curse wouldn’t have been fulfilled.