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Oedipus at Colonus (also Oidipous at Colonos) is one of the three Theban plays of Sophocles. It was written ca. 407 BC and was Sophocles' last play.

In the timeline of the plays, the events of Oedipus at Colonus occur after Oedipus the King and before Antigone. The play describes the end of Oedipus' tragic life. Legends differ as to the site of Oedipus' death; Sophocles set the place at Colonus, a village near Athens and also Sophocles' own birthplace, where the blinded Oedipus has come with his daughters Antigone and Ismene as suppliants of the Eumenides and of Theseus, the king of Athens.

Creon, Oedipus' uncle (and brother-in-law) who has replaced him as king of Thebes, follows him to Colonus to claim Antigone and Ismene, whom Oedipus entrusted to him after his exile. Creon and his men seize them but they are rescued by Theseus. Theseus then informs Oedipus that a suppliant has come to the temple of Poseidon and wishes to speak with him; it is Oedipus' son Polyneices, who has been banished from Thebes by his brother Eteocles. Oedipus does not want to talk to him, feeling that his sons have abandoned him, but is convinced to do so by Antigone. These events are contemporary with the Seven Against Thebes, and Antigone forsees Polyneices' death.

Following their conversation there is a fierce thunderstorm, which Oedipus interprets as a sign from Zeus of his impending death. His death is not shown on stage but the events are recounted by a messenger. Oedipus appears to be taken away by Zeus himself, rather than dying a natural death.

There is less action in this play than in Oedipus the King, and more philosophical discussion. Here, Oedipus discusses his fate as related by the oracle, and claims that he is not fully guilty because his crimes of murder and incest were committed in ignorance. Despite being blinded and exiled and facing violence from Creon and his sons, in the end Oedipus is accepted and absolved by Zeus.

Characters

Oedipus
Antigone, the elder daugther of Oedipus
Man of Colonus
Ismene, the younger daugther of Oedipus
Theseus, King of Athens
Creon, King of Thebes, uncle and brother-in-law of Oedipus
Polyneices, son of Oedipus
Messenger
Chorus: elders of Attica

Eleftheria A. Bernidaki-Aldous, Blindness in a Culture of Light: Especially the Case of Oedipus at Colonus of Sophocles (American University Studies; Series XVII : Classical Langua) (Hardcover) Publisher: Peter Lang Pub Inc (May, 1990) 0820410241

Links

Oedipus at Colonus, at the Internet Classics Archive (http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/colonus.html)

Plays by Sophocles

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