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The Story of Oedipus from Ancient Mythology
Read about gods, goddesses and mythical creatures in the myth story of Oedipus

The short mythical story of Oedipus is one of the famous legends that feature in the mythology of ancient civilizations. Discover the myths about the ancient gods, goddesses, demigods and heroes and the terrifying monsters and creatures they encountered on their perilous journeys and quests. The amazing story of Oedipus really is easy reading for kids and children who are learning about the history, myths and legends of the ancient Roman and Greek gods. Additional facts and information about the mythology and legends of individual gods and goddesses of these ancient civilizations can be accessed via the following links:

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The Myth of Oedipus

The mythical story of Oedipus
by Josephine Preston Peabody

The Myth of Oedipus
Behind the power of the gods and beyond all the efforts of men, the three Fates sat at their spinning.

No one could tell whence these sisters were, but by some strange necessity they spun the web of human life and made destinies without knowing why. It was not for Clotho to decree whether the thread of a life should be stout or fragile, nor for Lachesis to choose the fashion of the web; and Atropos herself must sometimes have wept to cut a life short with her shears, and let it fall unfinished. But they were like spinners for some Power that said of life, as of a garment, Thus it must be. That Power neither gods nor men could withstand.

There was once a king named Laius (a grandson of Cadmus himself), who ruled over Thebes, with Jocasta his wife. To them an Oracle had foretold that if a son of theirs lived to grow up, he would one day kill his father and marry his own mother. The king and queen resolved to escape such a doom, even at terrible cost. Accordingly Laius gave his son, who was only a baby, to a certain herdsman, with instructions to put him to death.

This was not to be. The herdsman carried the child to a lonely mountain-side, but once there, his heart failed him. Hardly daring to disobey the king's command, yet shrinking from murder, he hung the little creature by his feet to the branches of a tree, and left him there to die.

But there chanced to come that way with his flocks, a man who served King Polybus of Corinth. He found the baby perishing in the tree, and, touched with pity, took him home to his master. The king and queen of Corinth were childless, and some power moved them to take this mysterious child as a gift. They called him Oedipus (Swollen-Foot) because of the wounds they had found upon him, and, knowing naught of his parentage, they reared him as their own son. So the years went by.

Now, when Oedipus had come to manhood, he went to consult the Oracle at Delphi, as all great people were wont, to learn what fortune had in store for him. But for him the Oracle had only a sentence of doom. According to the Fates, he would live to kill his own father and wed his mother.

Picture of Oedipus and the Sphinx

Picture of Oedipus and the Sphinx

Filled with dismay, and resolved in his turn to conquer fate, Oedipus fled from Corinth; for he had never dreamed that his parents were other than Polybus and Merope the queen. Thinking to escape crime, he took the road towards Thebes, so hastening into the very arms of his evil destiny.

It happened that King Laius, with one attendant, was on his way to Delphi from the city Thebes. In a narrow road he met this strange young man, also driving in a chariot, and ordered him to quit the way. Oedipus, who had been reared to princely honors, refused to obey; and the king's charioteer, in great anger, killed one of the young man's horses. At this insult Oedipus fell upon master and servant; mad with rage, he slew them both, and went on his way, not knowing the half of what he had done. The first saying of the Oracle was fulfilled.

But the prince was to have his day of triumph before the doom. There was a certain wonderful creature called the Sphinx, which had been a terror to Thebes for many days. In form half woman and half lion, she crouched always by a precipice near the highway, and put the same mysterious question to every passer-by. None had ever been able to answer, and none had ever lived to warn men of the riddle; for the Sphinx fell upon every one as he failed, and hurled him down the abyss, to be dashed in pieces.

This way came Oedipus towards the city Thebes, and the Sphinx crouched, face to face with him, and spoke the riddle that none had been able to guess.

"What animal is that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?"

Oedipus, hiding his dread of the terrible creature, took thought, and answered, "Man. In childhood he creeps on hands and knees, in manhood he walks erect, but in old age he has need of a staff."

At this reply the Sphinx uttered a cry, sprang headlong from the rock into the valley below, and perished. Oedipus had guessed the answer. When he came to the city and told thebans that their torment was gone, they hailed him as a deliverer. Not long after, they married him with great honor to their widowed queen, Jocasta, his own mother. The destiny was fulfilled.

For years Oedipus lived in peace, unwitting; but at length upon that unhappy city there fell a great pestilence and famine. In his distress the king sent to the Oracle at Delphi, to know what he or thebans had done, that they should be so sorely punished. Then for the third time the Oracle spoke his own fateful sentence; and he learned all.

Jocasta died, and Oedipus took the doom upon himself, and left Thebes. Blinded by his own hand, he wandered away into the wilderness. Never again did he rule over men; and he had one only comrade, his faithful daughter Antigone. She was the truest happiness in his life of sorrow, and she never left him till he died..

The Legend and Myth of Oedipus

The sphinx

Picture of the Greek Sphinx

The Myth of Oedipus
The story of Oedipus is featured in the book entitled Old Greek Folk Stories by Josephine Preston Peabody, published in 1907 by Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.

Oedipus - A Myth with a Moral
Many of the ancient Myth Stories, like the legend of Oedipus, incorporate tales with morals that provided the old story-tellers with short examples of exciting tales for kids and children of how to act and behave and reflected important life lessons. The characters of the heroes in this type of fable demonstrated the virtues of courage, love, loyalty, strength, perseverance, leadership and self reliance. Whereas the villains demonstrated all of the vices and were killed or punished by the gods. The old, famous myth story and fable, like Oedipus, were designed to entertain, thrill and inspire their young listeners...

The Myth of Oedipus - the Magical World of Myth & Legend
The story of Oedipus is one of the fantastic stories featured in ancient mythology and legends. Such stories serve as a doorway to enter the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The names of so many of the heroes and characters are known today through movies and games but the actual story about such characters are unknown. Reading a myth story such as Oedipus is the easy way to learn about the stories of the classics.


The Magical World of Myth and Legend

The Short Story and Myth of Oedipus
The myth about Oedipus is featured in the book entitled The story of Oedipus is featured in the book entitled Old Greek Folk Stories by Josephine Preston Peabody, published in 1907 by Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. Learn about the exciting adventures and dangerous quests undertaken by the mythical characters that feature in the hero myths, fables and stories about the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece and Rome that are available on this website.

Myths and Stories about gods and goddesses - Apollo riding his golden chariot

Myths and Stories about gods and goddesses


  • Short story of Oedipus
  • A Myth Story of the Ancient World
  • The gods, goddesses of the ancient Myth Stories & Legends
  • The monsters and beasts of classical Mythology
  • The story of Oedipus by Caroline H. Harding and Samuel B. Harding
  • A famous Myth Story and fable of the Ancient World for schools and kids

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