Q.12. How is the mystery of Oedipus’s birth and parentage fully unravelled?

Ans. The messenger hears Oedipus still talking of his fear about the possibility of his marrying his mother. He asks Oedipus who is the woman whom he still fears. Oedipus says Merope, the queen of the dead King Polybus, and there is the prophecy that he will marry his own mother, and kill his father. The messenger then tells him that he need

not have fear any more because Polybus was not his father nor is Merope his mother. Oedipus asks him how so. The messenger tells him that Oedipus was given to Polybus by himself. The baby Oedipus was found in a wooden hollow of Cithaeron, a nearby mountain. He happened to be there in his sheep tending. Oedipus’s ankles Were riveted. He set the baby free. Oedipus asks him whose work was it, his father’s or mother’s. The messenger answers he cannot tell who, but the man who entrusted him (Oedipus) to him, can. He was another shepherd, said to be one of Laius’s men. Oedipus now feels extremely curious; he desires to see the man. He asks if anybody knows him. Out of intense emotion of curiosity he says, “Now is the chance to get to the bottom of the mysteiy”. He asks Jocasta if she knows the man whom they have sent for. Jocasta is already white with terror. She discourages Oedipus to proceed further. But Oedipus is determined to unravel the mysteiy of his birth, no matter whether he be proved slave-born. That man, an elderly shepherd of Thebes arrives. Oedipus asks him if he was in Laius’ service, and what part of the country he mostly worked. The shepherd answers that it was Cithaeron or somewhere whereabouts. But when he is asked by Oedipus *hether he knew the Corinthian shepherd he says he did not. Then the Corinthian shepherd jogs his memory. But then, though he recognizes him, he hesitates to answer the questions regarding Oedipus. Then Oedipus orders him to be pinioned to the wall, and then he asks him questions. Now the shepherd answers with great hesitation, fearing his own danger. From the answers of the shepherd the truth comes out that Oedipus’ mother Jocasta gave the child over the shepherd to expose him on the mountain to die there. She did it because of a wicked spell that the child should kill his father. The shepherd gave it to the Corinthian shepherd (now the messenger) who gave it to the childless King Polybus who brought him as his own son. The shepherd concludes that if he (Oedipus) is the man, then his life is lost. Now the whole truth descends on Oedipus. He says, “Alas! All out! All known …/O light! May I never look on you again.”


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