The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Oedipus – Oenanthe – Oeneus


Scriptoribus Eccles. vol.ii. col. 518 ; Lardner, Credib. book i. c. 162 ; J. C. Wolfius, Eocercit. in Catena* Patrum Graecor., apud Cramer, Praef. ad Catenam in Evang. SS. Matfkaei et Marci, 8vo. Oxford, 1840; Cramer, Monitum ad Catenam in Epist. Cathol. &c. 8vo. Oxford, 1840.) [J. C. M.~]

OEDIPUS (OtSfTrous), the son of Laius and locaste of Thebes. The tragic fate of this hero is more celebrated than that of any other legendary personage, on account of the frequent use which the tragic poets have made of it. In their hands it also underwent various changes and embellishments ; but the common story is as follows. Laius, a son of Labdacus, was king of Thebes, and husband of locaste, a daughter of Menoeceus (or Creon, Diod. iv. 64), and sister of Creon. As Laius had no issue, he consulted the oracle, which informed him that if a son should be born to him he would lose his life by the hand of his own child. When, therefore, at length Jocaste gave birth to a son, they pierced his feet, bound them together, and then exposed the child on Mount Cithaeron. There he was found by a shepherd of king Polybus of Corinth, and he was called from his swollen feet Oedipus. When he was brought to the palace, the king and his wife Merope (or Periboea, Apollod. iii. 5. § 7) brought him up as their own child. Once, however, Oedipus was taunted by a Co­rinthian with not being the king's son, whereupon he proceeded to Delphi to consult the oracle. The answer he there obtained was that he should slay his father and commit incest with his own mother. Thinking that Polybus was his father, he resolved not to return to Corinth ; but on his road between Delphi and Daulis he met his real father Laius, and as Polyphontes (or Polyphetes, or Polypoetes, Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 39), the charioteer of Laius, wanted to push him out of the way, a scuffle ensued in which Oedipus slew both Laius and Polyphontes, and one part of the oracle was ful­filled. The two corpses are said to have been buried on the same spot by Damasistratus, king of Plataeae (Apollod. iii. 5. § 8 ; Paus. x. 5. § 2). In the mean time the celebrated Sphinx had appeared in the neighbourhood of Thebes. She had settled on a rock, and put a riddle to every Theban that passed by, and whoever was unable to solve it was killed by the monster. This cala­mity induced the Thebans to make known that whoever should deliver the country of it should be made king, and receive locaste as his wife. Oedipus was one of those that came forward, and when he approached the Sphinx she gave the riddle as follows : " A being with four feet has two feet and three feet, and only one voice ; but its feet vary, and when it has most it is weakest." Oedipus solved the riddle by saying that it was man,, and the Sphinx thereupon threw herself from the rock. Oedipus now obtained the kingdom of Thebes, and married his mother, by whom he became the father of Eteocles, Polyneices, Antigone, and Is-mene. In consequence of this incestuous alliance of which no one was aware, the country of Thebes was visited by a plague, and the oracle ordered that the murderer of Laius should be expelled. Oedipus accordingly pronounced a solemn curse upon the unknown murderer, and declared him an exile ; but when he endeavoured to discover him., he was informed by the seer Teiresias that he him­self was both the parricide and the husband of his mother, locaste now hung herself, and Oedipus


put out his own eyes (Apollod. Hi. 5. § 8 ; Soph, Oed.Tyr. 447,713, 731, 774,&c.). From this point traditions again differ,for according to some, Oedipus in his blindness was expelled from Thebes by his sons and brother-in-law, Creon, who undertook the government, and he was guided and accompanied by Antigone in his exile to Attica ; but according to others he was imprisoned by his sons at Thebes, in order that his disgrace might remain concealed from the eyes of the world. The father now cursed his sons, who agreed to rule over Thebes alternately, but became involved in a dispute, in consequence of which they fought in single combat, and slew each other. Hereupon Creon succeeded to the throne, and expelled Oedipus. After long wan­ derings Oedipus arrived in the grove of the Eume- iiides, near Colonus, in Attica; he was there honoured by Theseus in his misfortune, and, accord­ ing to an oracle, the Eumenides removed him from the earth, and no one was allowed to approach his tomb (Soph. Oed. Col. 1661, &c.; Eurip. PJiocn. init.; Apollod. iii. 5. § 9 ; Diod. iv. 64 ; llygin. Fab. 67). According to Homer, Oedipua, tormented by the Erinnyes of his mother, continued to reign at Thebes after her death ; he fell in battle, and was honoured at Thebes with funeral solemnities (Od. xi. 270, &c., II. xxiii. 679). Some traditions mention Euryganeia as the mother of the four children of Oedipus above-mentioned (Pans. ix. 5. 5 ; Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 63), and previous to his connection with her, he is said to have been the father of Phrastor and Laonytus by locaste, and to have in the end married Astymedusa, a daughter of Sthenelus (Schol. ad Eurip. I. c.). Oedipus himself is sometimes called a son of Laius by Eu- rycleia, and is said to have been thrown in a chest into the sea when yet an infant, to have been carried by the waves to the coast of Sicyon, to have been received by Polybus, and afterwards to have been blinded by him (Schol. ad Ear. Phoen. 13,26). His tomb was shown at Athens, where be also had an heroum. (Paus. i 28. § 7, 30, in fin.) [L. S.]

OENANTHE (OlvavB-n}, mother of Agathocles, the infamous minister of Ptolemy Philopator, and Agathoclea, his equally infamous mistress. Oenanthe seems to have introduced her children to the king, and through them she possessed, until his death, the greatest influence in the government. When, after the accession of the young Epiphanes, the people rose up against Agathocles and his party, Oenanthe fled for refuge to the Thesmophorium [the temple of Demeter and Persephone), and here ihe implored the aid of the goddesses with super­stitious enchantments, and drove away with threats and curses some noble ladies who had come to con­sole her. On the next day she was dragged from the altar, and, having been brought naked on horse­back into the stadium, was delivered up, with the rest of the family of Agathocles, to the fury of the multitude, by whom they were torn in pieces. (Polyb. xiv. 11, xv. 29, 33 ; Plut. Cleojn. 33 ; Just. xxx. 2 ; Athen. vi. p. 251, e.) [E. E.j

OENEUS (Olvtvs). 1. One of the sons of Aegyptus. (Apollod. ii. 1. § 5.)

2. A son of Pandion, and one of the eponymic heroes at Athens. (Paus. i. 5. § 2.)

3. A son of Portheus, brother of Agrius and Melas,and husband of Althaea, by whom he became the father of Tydeus and Meleager, and was thus the grandfather of Diomedes. He was king of

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of