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Greek Literature Oedipus the King Background Cadmus the founder of Thebes angered Apollo by killing the Gods favorite snake As punishment the descendants of Cadmus lived under a curse prophesized to each generation by Apollos oracle According to the prophecy if Laius king of Thebes had a son by Jocasta his queen that son would kill his father and marry his mother In response to this prophecy Laius had a rivet driven between his infant son Oedipus ankles and instructed a household servant to leave him on Mt Citheron to die from exposure to the elements Instead the servant pitied the infant and without revealing his identity gave him to a Shepard In turn the Shepard gave Oedipus to Merope the wife of Polybus king of Corinth They named him Oedipus which means swollen foot for the wounds in his feet As a young man Oedipus was taunted for not being the true son of Polybus Deeply troubled Oedipus consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi about the accusation But before he could ask this question the priestess Pythia drove him away from Apollos shrine declaring that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother Horrified Oedipus fled Corinth the home of his supposed parents in attempt avoid fulfilling the prophecy Not far from Delphi Oedipus met a man in a chariot whose charioteer demanded that Oedipus move aside When he refused the charioteer drove his horses forward so that the wheel of the car grazed Oedipus foot As the chariot passed him someone inside struck Oedipus on the head with a goad Enraged Oedipus killed the rider and Charioteer and continued on his way Eventually Oedipus found his way to Thebes Upon arrival he found the city in turmoil A female monster called the Sphinx was terrorizing the Thebans eating them one by one Before eating her victims the Sphinx would ask them a riddle What is it that goes
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