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Oedipus Rex

Critique • Quotes • Text

Theban Plays 1965 paperback editionCollection, 1965 paperback
By Sophocles
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Also known as
Oedipus; Oedipus Tyrannus; Oedipus the King

First performed
429 BCE

Literature form

Tragedy, mythology

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 14,000 words

Notable lines

My children, generations of the living
In the line of Kadmos, nursed at his ancient hearth;
Why have you strewn yourselves before these altars
In supplication, with your boughs and garlands?

— First lines, "Prologue," trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald

A fearful thing is knowledge, when to know
Helpeth no end. I knew this long ago,
But crushed it dead.

trans. Gilbert Murray

'Tis Time alone can make men know
What hearts are true; the false one day can show.

trans. Gilbert Murray

For this I tell thee, never was there fall
Of pride, nor shall be, like to thine this day.

trans. Gilbert Murray

Pride breeds the tyrant; swollen with ill-found booty,
From castled height Pride tumbles to the pit,
All footing lost. Zeal stripped for civic duty,
No law forbids; may God still prosper it.

trans. E.F. Watling

No god will speak for me.

trans. E.F. Watling

My "good" has been my bugbear long enough.

trans. E.F. Watling


Men of Thebes: look upon Oedipus.
This is the king who solved the famous riddle
And towered up, most powerful of men.
No mortal eyes but looked on him with envy,
Yet in the end, ruin swept over him.


Let every man in mankind's frailty
Consider his last day; and let none
Presume on his good fortune until he find
Life, at his death, a memory without pain.

— Last lines, trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald.


Critique • Quotes • Text