The Oedipus Trilogy By Sophocles Summary and Analysis: Oedipus at Colonus Lines 1695-1765

Summary

Oedipus says that he will lead Theseus, Ismene, and Antigone to his gravesite, where his tomb will be a blessing to Athens.

Analysis

In this episode, Oedipus and Theseus have, in effect, changed roles. Oedipus — once the helpless wanderer begging for shelter — now confidently leads the king who provided him protection into the sacred precinct, where he promises powerful blessings. Oedipus himself points out the irony that he, the blind man, leads the rest.

In yielding the gift of his tomb to Athens — the power that will keep the city safe from Theban attack — Oedipus reminds Theseus of the paradox of eternal life. Though dead, Oedipus will enliven Athens forever. Oedipus' humble request to be remembered is the last onstage speech of the tragic character.

Note especially Oedipus' reference to the Eleusian Mysteries and his insistence upon secrecy. The passage from death to eternal life that he is about to accomplish is a holy mystery, full of awe, power, and dread.

Glossary

dragon's teeth a reference to the legend that the original Thebans sprung up as armed men from dragon's teeth sown by their first king, Cadmus.

Hermes the god who is herald and messenger of the other gods. Here, referred to as the god that will escort Oedipus to the underworld.

Persephone the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, abducted by Hades to be his wife in the lower world. The Queen of Hades.

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