BOEOTIA was now rid of the Sphinx; and when the
Thebans heard the joyful news of its death, they
welcomed Œdipus with much joy. In reward for his
bravery, they gave him not only the throne, but also
the hand of Jocasta, the widowed queen. It was thus
that Œdipus, although he did not know it, fulfilled
the second part of the prophecy, and married his own
Several years now passed by, during which Œdipus ruled
the Thebans so wisely, that they all loved him dearly,
and went to him for advice in all their troubles.
Finally the good times came to an end; and the people
were again terrified, because a plague, or great
sickness, broke out in the city, and many of the
All kinds of medicines were tried, but without effect;
and all the gods were asked to lend their aid. In
 Œdipus sent a messenger to Delphi to ask the
oracle how the disease could be stopped. The oracle for
once gave a plain answer, and said that the plague
would cease only when the murderer of Laius had been
found and punished.
Investigations were now made for the first time, and it
was found that Œdipus was the one who had slain the
king. At the same time, the servant confessed that he
had not killed the royal child; and the shepherd told
how he had found the babe and carried him to Corinth,
where he had been adopted by the king.
When Œdipus heard all this, he was driven almost mad
with despair; for now he knew not only that he had
murdered his father and married his mother, but that it
was on his account that the plague had caused the death
of so many people in Thebes.
In her horror and grief at this discovery, Queen
Jocasta killed herself. When Œdipus learned that she
was dead, he ran into the room where she lay, and took
one of the buckles which fastened her dress and put out
his eyes with it, saying, that, since they had beheld
such a sorrowful sight, they should never again see the
light of day.
To rid the city of his accursed presence, and thus if
possible, save it from the threatened destruction,
Œdipus banished himself, and wandered away, old,
blind, and poor, for he would take none of his riches
He departed sorrowfully, leaving his kingdom to his two
sons, Eteocles, and Polynices, and telling them
to care for their sisters, Antigone and Ismene.
Ismene wept bitterly when she said good-by to her
 father; but Antigone placed her father's hand upon her
shoulder, said that she would never forsake him, and
left the city, tenderly supporting and guiding him.
Father and daughter wandered thus from place to place,
finding no rest; for all the people shrank from even
looking upon Œdipus, who, they said, was evidently
accursed by the gods, since he had committed such
After many days' wandering and much fatigue, the exiles
arrived at last on the border of a dark forest held
sacred to the Furies,—the goddesses whose duty it was
to punish all criminals by tormenting them as long as
they lived, and even after they had died.
When Antigone described to her poor blind father the
place they had reached, he bade her remain by the
roadside, and, groping his way, soon vanished into the
forest. He had scarcely gone, when a terrible
thunderstorm arose. The air grew dark, the lightning
flashed, the thunder rolled, the trees bent and twisted
in the wind; and, although Antigone called her father
again and again, she heard no answering cry.
When morning came, she went to look for him, but found
no trace of him. The people in the neighborhood then
told her that the Furies had dragged her father away to
punish him for his crimes, and Antigone sadly went back
As soon as she arrived in the city, Antigone hastened
to the palace to tell her brothers and sister about
their father's sad death; but when she entered her
former happy home, she learned that there are sadder
things than death, for her brothers were no longer
friends, and had begun a terrible quarrel.