Born into a cursed royal family, Oedipus kills a man in self-defense who turns out to be the real
father he never knew, the King of Thebes.
Then, in ignorance, Oedipus himself, becomes King
of Thebes, and marries the newly widowed Queen Jocasta, his own mother. Upon learning the
truth, Queen Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus blinds himself. Oedipus' daughter, Antigone,
stays by her father through twenty years in exile begging, and now brings her father to Colonus
to plead for Sanctuary.
"...Please turn your attention to the responsive reading below ...)
Leader : And it came to pass, in the reign of King Laius, whose wife Jocasta was heavy with child, that there was a God-given curse on the royal house of Thebes
People: And with the curse there came a prophecy – that a son born unto Jocasta would murder his own father.
Leader: In time, that son was born and King Laius was afraid. He commanded a servant, saying, " Take thou this babe, whose ankles I have pierced and bound together, up to the mountain; and there abandon him naked to die.
People: But the servant pitied the innocent babe and gave it to a shepherd.
Leader: Now the shepherd took the babe and fled to the city of Corinth, and there delivered him to the childless King and Queen of Corinth. And the Queen nursed him at her breast and raised him as her own. She named him Oedipus, which is to say, one born with crooked feet.
People: And Oedipus grew up happy in the love of the King and Queen of Corinth, whom he believed to be his parents.
Leader: But who can know the whims of the gods whose favors blow and turn with no mortal comprehension? And so when Oedipus reached man's estate, he journeyed to an Oracle which spoke unto him, saying "Thy father wilt thou slay and thy mother wilt thou wed, and thou shalt know her even as a man knoweth his own wife."
People: In horror Oedipus fled Corinth and the only parents he had ever known and wandered like a beggar through the land.
Leader: One day Oedipus came to a crossroads near the city of Thebes, the place of his true birth. An arrogant stranger in a chariot mocked him and tried to force him from the road. In youthful heat Oedipus slew that man. And there, unknown to Oedipus, lay dead his true father, Laius, King of Thebes.
People: And the curse was made manifest.
Leader: Now Oedipus entered the city of Thebes which was held hostage by a winged monster – half lion, half woman – that devoured all who could not solve its riddle. Yet Oedipus, in the cleverness of his mind, solved the riddle and the monster threw itself into the sea. In gratitude, the people of Thebes made Oedipus King and gave unto him the newly widowed Queen Jocasta, in marriage.
People: And thus the prophecy was fulfilled! Oedipus murdered his own father and married his own mother.