Part 1

1. Describe the action of the opening scene. 

2. List some of the horrible afflictions that have befallen Thebes like "red waves of death" according to the priest.

3. How do the people view Oedipus, and what do they ask of him?

4. Why does Oedipus claim "not one is as sick as I"?

5. Why has he sent Creon to Delphi?

6. When Creon returns, Oedipus refuses to hear his report in private.  What does Creon tell Oedipus (and the gathered citizens of Thebes) must be done to restore prosperity to the kingdom?

7. According to the sole survivor of the attack, who killed King Laius?

8. How does Oedipus reason that "by avenging Laius/ I defend myself"?

9. What is the purpose of the Chorus' chant in lines 169-244?

10. In the first line of his address to the people in line 255, who does he say can answer their prayers?  11. What does this reveal about his character?

12. What does Oedipus initially offer to Laius' killer if he will step forward?  What does he offer anyone able to identify the killer?

13. What curse does Oedipus invoke on the killer?

14. In one of many, many ironic proclamations, Oedipus vows to fight for Laius "as if he were my _____."

15. What power does Tiresias, the blind prophet, possess?

16. In his first line of the play, what does Tiresias say is terrible about truth?

17. How does Tiresias anger Oedipus initially?

18. Following Oedipus' accusation that Tiresias aided in the death of Laius, Tiresias identifies the killer.  Who is it?

19. Explain the irony of Oedipus' mocking of Tiresias' blindness.

20. What causes Oedipus' sudden anger with Creon?

21. What event does Oedipus cite as evidence of Tiresias' fraud as a prophet?

22. What does the future hold for Oedipus according to Tiresias?

23. What insult does Tiresias give the prideful Oedipus when he mocks, "all you can say are riddles, murk and darkness"?

24. Based on the concluding chant of the chorus, what is the mood of the Thebans at the close of the section?

 

Part 2

25. In the opening lines of this section, Creon is distraught at Oedipus' accusations, and declares that there's nothing worse than-

26. How does the leader of the chorus attempt to ease the potential friction between the two noblemen?

27. Creon accuses Oedipus of "crude, mindless stubbornness."  Is he correct?

28. What question does Oedipus ask regarding Tiresias' prophesies at the time of Laius' death?

Creon. "I don't know.  And when I don't, I keep _____."

29. After asking Oedipus if they share equal power, Creon "calmly, rationally," asks Oedipus ,"Who in his right mind would rather live in anxiety than sleep in _____?"

30. What does the leader of the chorus advise in lines 690-692?

31. Oedipus tells Creon that he doesn't want to banish him.  Instead he wants this-

32. What stops Oedipus and Creon from fighting?

33. Why does Oedipus decide to spare Creon's life?

34. According to Creon, what is "perfect justice"?

35. How does Jocasta attempt to assuage Oedipus' anger and his suspicions about sending a "prophet in to do his dirty work"?

36. Why does Oedipus ask Jocasta to repeat the location of Laius' death, what he looked like, and who accompanied him?

37. Who does Oedipus ask Jocasta to summon back to Thebes?

38. What prompted Oedipus to leave Polybus and Merope for Delphi?

39. What prophecy did Oedipus gain from Apollo and what does it cause him to do?

40. Why did Oedipus kill Laius?

41. What does Oedipus decide to do after discovering that he is Laius' killer?

42. What part of the shepherd's tale of the fight gives Oedipus hope?

43. Why does Jocasta still refuse to believe in prophecies even after hearing Oedipus' story?

44. What does the chorus wish for men whose pride overcomes their reverence for the gods (and why is this thematically significant?

 

Part 3

45. Explain the irony of the messenger's proclamation, "God bless you, lady, and God bless your household!  God bless Oedipus' noble wife!"

46. What news does the messenger bring, and why do Oedipus and Jocasta interpret this as fortuitous information?

47. Jocasta: "What should a man fear?  It's all _____,/ _____ rules our lives."

48. What other news does the messenger give Oedipus in hopes of calming his fears?

49. What does Jocasta beg Oedipus not to do?  Why?

50. Why does he believe she does not want him to pursue this knowledge?

51. Why is the herdsman reluctant to answer any questions?

52. How does Oedipus convince the old man to talk?