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sacred egg of poshed back trachte, found at Peruga, wth an arrow

n reef runnng around t, s ths same hoy egg.

LAIUS, son of Labdacus, marred Iocaste, and rued over Thebes.
Greved by hs proonged chdessness, he secrety consuted the
Dephc Orace, whch nformed hm that ths seemng msfortune was a
bessng, because any chd born to Iocaste woud become hs
murderer. He therefore put Iocaste away, though wthout offerng any
reason for hs decson, whch caused her such vexaton that, havng
made hm drank, she nveged hm nto her arms agan as soon as
nght fe. When, nne months ater, Iocaste was brought to bed of a
son, Laus snatched hm from the nurses arms, perced hs feet wth a
na and, bndng them together, exposed hm on Mount Cthaeron.
b. Yet the Fates had rued that ths boy shoud reach a green od age. A
Cornthan shepherd found hm, named hm Oedpus because hs feet
were deformed by the na-wound, and brought hm to Cornth, where
Kng Poybus was regnng at the tme.
c. Accordng to another verson of the story, Laus dd not expose
Oedpus on the mountan, but ocked hm n a chest, whch was
owered nto the sea from a shp. Ths chest drfted ashore at Scyon,
where Perboea, Poybuss queen, happened to be on the beach,
supervsng her roya aundry-women. She pcked up Oedpus, retred
to a thcket and pretended to have been overcome by the pangs of
abour. Snce the aundry-women were too busy to notce what she was
about, she deceved them a nto thnkng that he had ony |ust been
born. But Perboea tod the truth to Poybus who, aso beng chdess,
was peased to rear Oedpus as hs own son.
One day, taunted by a Cornthan youth wth not n the east
resembng hs supposed parents, Oedpus went to ask the Dephc
Orace what future ay n store for hm. Away from the shrne, wretch!
the Pythoness cred n dsgust. You w k your father and marry your
d. Snce Oedpus oved Poybus and Perboea, and shrank from brngng
dsaster upon them, he at once decded aganst returnng to Cornth.
But n the narrow defe between Deph and Daus he happened to
meet Laus, who ordered hm roughy to step off the road and make
way for hs betters; Laus, t shoud be expaned, was n a charot and
Oedpus on foot. Oedpus retorted that he acknowedged no betters
except the gods and hs own parents.
So much the worse for you! cred Laus, and ordered hs charoteer
Poyphontes to drve on. One of the whees brused Oedpuss foot and,
transported by rage he ked Poyphontes wth hs spear. Then, fngng
Laus on the road entanged n the rens, and whppng up the team, he
made them drag hm to death. It was eft to the kng of Pataeae to
bury both corpses
e. Laus had been on hs way to ask the Orace how he mght rd
Thebes of the Sphnx. Ths monster was a daughter of Typhon an
Echdne or, some say, of the dog Orthrus and the Chmaera, and had
fown to Thebes from the uttermost part of Ethopa. She was easy
recognzed by her womans head, ons body, serpents ta, and
eages wngs. Hera had recenty sent the Sphnx to punsh Thebes for
Laus abducton of the boy Chrysppus from Psa and, settng on Mount
Phcum, cose to the cty, she now asked every Theban wayfarer rdde
taught her by the Three Muses: What beng, wth ony one voce, has
sometmes two feet, sometmes three, sometmes four, an s weakest
when t has the most? Those who coud not sove the rdde she
throtted and devoured on the spot, among whch unfortunates was
Iocastes nephew Haemon, whom the Sphnx made haimon, or boody
Oedpus, approachng Thebes fresh from the murder of Laus,
guessed the answer. Man, he reped, because he craws on a fours
as an nfant, stands frmy on hs two feet n hs youth, and eans upon
staff n hs od age. The mortfed Sphnx eaped from Mount Phcum
and dashed hersef to peces n the vaey beow. At ths the gratefu
Thebans accamed Oedpus kng, and he marred Iocaste, unaware
that she was hs mother.
f. Pague then descended upon Thebes, and the Dephc Orace, when
consuted once more, reped: Expe the murderer of Laus! Oedpus,
not knowng whom he had met n the defe, pronounced curse on
Lauss murderer and sentenced hm to exe.
g. Bnd Teresas, the most renowned seer n Greece at ths tme
now demanded an audence wth Oedpus. Some say that Athene, who
had bnded hm for havng nadvertenty seen her bathng, was moved
by hs mothers pea and, takng the serpent Erchthonus from her
aegis, gave the order: Ceanse Teresass ears wth your tongue that
he may understand the anguage of prophetc brds.
h. Others say that once, on Mount Cyene, Teresas had seen
two serpents n the act of coupng. When both attacked hm, he struck
at them wth hs staff, kng the femae. Immedatey he was turned
nto a woman, and became a ceebrated harot; but seven years ater
he happened to see the same sght agan at the same spot, and ths
tme reganed hs manhood by kng the mae serpent. St others say
that when Aphrodte and the three Chartes, Pasthea, Cae, and
Euphrosyne, dsputed as to whch of the four was most beautfu,
Teresas awarded Cae the prze; whereupon Aphrodte turned hm nto
an od woman. But Cae took hm wth her to Crete and presented hm
wth a ovey head of har. Some days ater Hera began reproachng
Zeus for hs numerous nfdetes. He defended them by argung that,
at any rate, when he dd share her couch, she had the more en|oyabe
tme by far.
Women, of course, derve nfntey greater peasure from the sexua
act than men, he bustered.
What nonsense! cred Hera. The exact contrary s the case, and we
you know t.
Teresas, summoned to sette the dspute from hs persona
experence, answered;
lf the parts of love-pleasure be counted as ten,
Thrice three go to women, one only to men.
Hera was so exasperated by Zeuss trumphant grn that she bnded
Teresas; but Zeus compensated hm wth nward sght, and a fe
extended to seven generatons.
. Teresas now appeared at Oedpuss court, eanng on the
corne-wood staff gven hm by Athene, and reveaed to Oedpus the
w of the gods: that the pague woud cease ony f a Sown Man ded
for the sake of the cty. Iocastes father Menoeceus, one of those who
had rsen out of the earth when Cadmus sowed the serpents teeth, at
once eaped from the was, and a Thebes prased hs cvc devoton.
Teresas then announced further: Menoeceus dd we, and the pague
w now cease. Yet the gods had another of the Sown Men n mnd, one
of the thrd generaton: for he has ked hs father and marred hs
mother. Know, Oueen Iocaste, that t s your husband Oedpus!
|. At frst, none woud beeve Teresas, but hs words were soon
confrmed by a etter from Perboea at Cornth. She wrote that the
sudden death of Kng Poybus now aowed her to revea the
crcumstances of Oedpuss adopton; and ths she dd n damnng
detas. Iocaste then hanged hersef for shame and gref, whe Oedpus
bnded hmsef wth a pn taken from her garments.
k. Some say that, athough tormented by the Ernnyes, who accuse hm
of havng brought about hs mothers death, Oedpus contnued to
regn over Thebes for awhe, unt he fe gorousy n batte. Accordng
to others, however, Iocastes brother Creon expeed hm, but not
before he had cursed Eteoces and Poyneces-who were at once hs
sons and hs brothers-when they nsoenty sent hm the nferor
porton of the sacrfca beast, namey haunch nstead of roya
shouder. They therefore watched dry-eyed as he eft the cty whch he
ha, devered from the Sphnxs power. After wanderng for many years
through country after country, guded by hs fathfu daughter
Antgone, Oedpus fnay came to Coonus n Attca, where the
Ernnyes who have a grove there, hounded hm to death, and Theseus
bured hs body n the precnct of the Soemn Ones at Athens,
amentng by Antgones sde.
1. The story of Laus, Iocaste, and Oedpus has been deduced
from set of sacred cons by a deberate perverson of ther meanng. A
myth whch woud expan Labdacuss name (hep wth torches) has
been ost; but t may refer to the torchght arrva of a Dvne Chd,
carred by cattemen or shepherds at the New Year ceremony, and
accamed as a son of the goddess Brmo (ragng). Ths eleusis, or
advent, was the most mportant ncdent n the Eeusnan Mysteres,
and perhaps aso the Isthman, whch woud expan the myth of
Oedpus arrva at the court of Cornth. Shepherds fostered or pad
homage to many other egendary or sem-egendary nfant prnces,
such as Hppothous, Peas, Amphon, Aegsthus, Moses, Romuus, and
Cyrus, who were a ether exposed on a mountan or ese consgned to
the waves n an ark, or both. Moses was found by Pharaohs daughter
when she went down to the water wth her women. It s possbe that
Oedpus, swoen foot, was orgnay Oedipais, son of the sweng
sea, whch s the meanng of the name gven to the correspondng
Wesh hero, Dyan; and that the percng of Oedpuss feet wth a na
beongs to the end, not to the begnnng, of hs story, as n the myth of
2. Lauss murder s a record of the soar kngs rtua death at the
hands of hs successor: thrown from a charot and dragged by the
horses. Hs abducton of Chrysppus probaby refers to the sacrfce of a
surrogate when the frst year of hs regn ended.
3. The anecdote of the Sphnx has evdenty been deduced from
an con showng the wnged Moon-goddess of Thebes, whose
composte body represents the two parts of the Theban year-on for
the waxng part, serpent for the wanng part-and to whom the new
kng offers hs devotons before marryng her prestess, the Oueen. It
seems aso that the rdde whch the Sphnx earned from the Muses
has been nvented to expan a pcture of an nfant, a warror, and an
od man, a worshppng the Trpe-goddess: each pays hs respects to
a dfferent person of the trad. But the Sphnx, overcome by Oedpus,
ked hersef, and so dd her prestess Iocaste. Was Oedpus a
thrteenth-century nvader of Thebes, who suppressed the od Mnoan
cut of the goddess and reformed the caendar? Under the od system,
the new kng, though a foregner, had theoretcay been a son of the
od kng whom he ked and whose wdow he marred; a custom that
the patrarcha nvaders msrepresented as parrcde and ncest. The
Freudan theory that the Oedpus compex s an nstnct common to
a men was suggested by ths perverted anecdote; and whe Putarch
records (On lsis and Osiris) that the hppopotamus murdered hs sre
and forced hs dam, he woud never have suggested that every man
has a hppopotamus compex.
4. Though Theban patrots, oth to admt that Oedpus was a
foregner who took ther cty by storm, preferred to make hm the ost
her to the kngdom, the truth s reveaed by the death of Menoeceus, a
member of the pre-Heenc race that ceebrated the Peora festva n
memory of Ophon the Demurge, from whose teeth they camed to
have sprung. He eaped to hs death n the desperate hope of pacatng
the goddess, ke Mettus Curtus, when a chasm opened n the Roman
Forum (Lvy); and the same sacrfce was offered durng the War of the
Seven Aganst Thebes. However, he ded n van; otherwse the
Sphnx, and her chef prestess, woud not have been obged to
commt sucde. The story of Iocastes death by hangng s probaby an
error; Heen of the Ove-trees, ke Ergone and Aradne of the vne
cut, was sad to have ded n ths way-perhaps to account for
fgurnes of the Moon-goddess whch danged from the boughs of
orchard trees, as a fertty charm. Smar fgurnes were used at
Thebes; and when Iocaste commtted sucde, she doubtess eaped
from a rock, as the Sphnx dd.
5. The occurrence of Teiresias, a common tte for soothsayers,
throughout Greek egendary hstory suggested that Teresas had been
granted a remarkaby ong fe by Zeus. To see snakes coupng s st
consdered unucky n Southern Inda; the theory beng that the
wtness w be punshed wth the femae dsease (as Herodotus cas
t), namey homosexuaty; here the Greek fabust has taken the tae a
stage further n order to rase a augh aganst women. Corne, a
dvnatory tree sacred to Cronus, symbozed the fourth month, that of
the Sprng Equnox; Rome was founded at ths season, on the spot
where Romuuss corne-wood |aven struck the ground. Hesod
turned the tradtona two Chartes nto three, cang them Euphrosyne,
Agaa, and Thaa (Theogony)-Sosostratuss account of the beauty
contest makes poor sense, because Pasithea Cale Euphrosyne, the
Goddess of |oy who s beautfu to a, seems to have been Aphrodtes
own tte. He may have borrowed t from the |udgement of Pars.
6. Two ncompatbe accounts of Oedpuss end survve.
Accordng to Homer, he ded gorousy n batte. Accordng to
Apoodorus and Hygnus, he was banshed by Iocastes brother, a
member of the Cadmean roya house, and wandered as a bnd beggar
through the ctes of Greece unt he came to Coonus n Attca, where
the Fures hounded hm to death. Oedpuss remorsefu sef-bndng
has been nterpreted by psychoogsts to mean castraton; but though
the bndness of Achess tutor Phoenx was sad by Greek
grammarans to be a euphemsm for mpotence, prmtve myth s
aways downrght, and the castraton of Uranus and Atts contnued to
be recorded unbushngy n Cassca text books. Oedpuss bndng,
therefore, reads ke a theatrca nventon, rather than orgna myth.
Fures were personfcatons of conscence, but conscence n a very
mted sense: aroused ony by the breach of a materna taboo.
7. Accordng to the non-Homerc story, Oedpuss defance of the
Cty-goddess was punshed by exe, and he eventuay ded a vctm of
hs own supersttous fears. It s probabe that hs nnovatons were
repudated by a body of Theban conservatves; and, certany, hs sons
and brothers unwngness to award hm the shouder of the sacrfca
vctm amounted to a dena of hs dvne authorty. The shouder-bade
was the presty perquste at |erusaem (Leviticus) and Tantaus set
one before the goddess Demeter at a famous banquet of the gods.
Among the Akan, the rght shouder st goes to the ruer.
8. Dd Oedpus, ke Ssyphus, try to substtute patrnea for
matrnea aws of successon, but get banshed by hs sub|ects? It
seems probabe. Theseus of Athens, another patrarcha revoutonary
from the Isthmus, who destroyed the ancent Athenan can of
Paantds, s assocated by the Athenan dramatsts wth Oedpuss
bura, and was kewse banshed at the cose of hs regn.
9. Teresas here fgures dramatcay as the prophet of Oedpuss fna
dsgrace, but the story, as t survves, seems to have been turned
nsdeout. It may once have run somethng ke ths: Oedpus of Cornth
conquered Thebes and became kng by marryng Iocaste, a prestess of
Hera. Afterwards he announced that the kngdom shoud henceforth be
bequeathed from father to son n the mae ne, whch s a Cornthan
custom, nstead of remanng the gft of Hera the Throtter. Oedpus
confessed that he fet hmsef dsgraced as havng et charot horses
drag to death Laus, who was accounted hs father, and as havng
marred Iocaste, who had enroyaed hm by a ceremony of rebrth. But
when he tred to change these customs, Iocaste commtted sucde n
protest, and Thebes was vsted by a pague. Upon the advce of an
orace, the Thebans then wthhed from Oedpus the sacred shouder-
bade, and banshed hm. He ded n a frutess attempt to regan hs
throne by warfare.
The Seven Against Thebes
SO many prnces vsted Argos n the hope of marryng ether
Aegea, or Depya, the daughters of Kng Adrastus, that, fearng to
make powerfu enemes f he snged out any two of them as hs sons-
n-aw, he consuted the Dephc Orace. Apoos response was: Yoke
to a two-wheeed charot the boar and on whch fght n your paace.
b. Among the ess fortunate of these sutors were Poyneces and
Tydeus. Poyneces and hs twn Eteoces had been eected co-kngs of
Thebes after the banshment of Oedpus, ther father. They agreed to
regn for aternate years, but Eteoces, to whom the frst term fe,
woud not renqush hs throne at the end of the year, peadng the ev
dsposton shown by Poyneces, and banshed hm from the cty.
Tydeus, son of Oeneus of Caydon, had ked hs brother Meanppus
when out huntng; though he camed that ths was an accdent, t had
been prophesed that Meanppus woud k hm, and the Caydonans
therefore suspected hm of havng tred to foresta hs fate, and he