Andrew Brown

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Oedipus (Οἰδίπους), son of Laius, the king of *Thebes (1) who killed his father and married his mother. The name appears to mean ‘with swollen foot’, but the reason for this is obscure, as the explanation given by ancient authors—that his feet were swollen because his ankles were pierced when he was exposed as a baby—looks like rationalizing invention.

Homer'sIliad mentions him only (23. 679) in the context of the funeral games held after his death, implying that he died at Thebes and probably in battle. Homer's Odyssey, however (11. 271–80), tells how he unwittingly killed his father and married his mother Epicaste (the later Iocasta), but the gods soon made this known (this version allows no time for the couple to have children) and Epicaste hanged herself. Oedipus continued to reign at Thebes, suffering all the woes that a mother's *Erinyes can inflict.

Article.  1126 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature ; Religion in the Ancient World

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