Oedipus rex
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Oedipus Rex. The Backstory: The Crime of Laius . Pelops: King of Pisa, husband of Hippodameia, father of Chrysippus (from a previous marriage), Atreus and Thyestes, among others.

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Oedipus Rex

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Oedipus rex

Oedipus Rex

The Backstory: The Crime of Laius


Oedipus rex

  • Pelops: King of Pisa, husband of Hippodameia, father of Chrysippus (from a previous marriage), Atreus and Thyestes, among others.

  • Laius took refuge in Pisa after fleeing Thebes; his older cousins (Amphion and Zethus) ruled Thebes at the time, and he feared for his life.

  • Pelops welcomed Laius and entrusted him with the training of Chrysippus in the art of war and charioteering.

    • Antiope, mother of Amphion and Zethus, was raped by Zeus.

    • Amphion married Niobe, who bragged about her many children and insulted the goddess Leto. Leto’s twins, Apollo and Artemis (fathered by Zeus) killed all Niobe’s children in retaliation. Amphion either killed himself or was killed by Zeus after vowing revenge, and Niobe either killed herself or was turned to stone.

    • Zethus had only one son, who died, so he killed himself.

  • Laius fell in love with and abducted Chrysippus, taking him back to Thebes once the “coast was clear.”


Oedipus rex

  • Pelops gathered his army and marched to Thebes to retrieve his son, but Hippodameia conspires with her two sons, Atreus and Thyestes, to kill Chrysippus (in some versions Chrysippus kills himself out of shame).

  • Pelops banishes Hippodameia, Atreus, and Thyestes to Mycenae, where Hippodameia hangs herself and Atreus becomes king.

  • Laius, having angered Pelops and the gods with his behavior, was cursed by Pelops and warned by Apollo not to have any children. Hera also sent the Sphinx to torment Thebes.

  • Laius, begin motivated by passion more than reason, did not heed Apollo’s warning and had a son with Jocasta (Iocaste)—Oedipus!


Oedipus rex

  • As far as Atreus and Thyestes are concerned, Atreus became king of Mycenae and Thyestes seduced Atreus’ wife. Atreus retaliated by serving Thyestes’ two sons to him at a “reconciliation” dinner. Thyestes cursed Atreus and his two sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Sound familiar?

  • Menelaus was the king of Sparta and husband of the infamous Helen, the reason (mythologically speaking) for the Trojan War!

  • Agamemnon was king of Mycenae and fought with his brother in the Trojan War.

  • According to legend, both survived the war and returned safely home, but Agamemnon was betrayed and killed by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus—the son of Thyestes!


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