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In Greek mythology, a king of Thebes who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. In the most familiar version of the story, Laius, king of Thebes, was warned by an oracle that his son would slay him. When his wife, Jocasta, bore a son, he exposed the baby on a mountainside, but the infant Oedipus was saved by a shepherd and adopted by the king of Corinth. In early manhood, as Oedipus traveled toward Thebes, he met Laius, who provoked a quarrel; in the ensuing fracas, Oedipus killed him. He then rid Thebes of the destructive Sphinx by answering her riddle; as a reward he was given the throne of Thebes and the hand of the widowed queenhis mother. They had four children, including Antigone. When at last they learned the truth, Jocasta committed suicide and Oedipus blinded himself and went into exile. Oedipus has served as the hero of many tragedies, most notably Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Oedipus, visit Britannica.com.