Oedipus the King: Novel Summary: Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

Here, Jocasta re-emerges from the palace, invoking the gods to grant healing to Oedipus, who she admits, seems to be losing his grip of life.  Soon a messenger from Corinth unexpectedly arrives with what he says is good news.  According to him, the people of Corinth want Oedipus to be their king because Polybus has died.  When this news reaches Oedipus, he is very happy, not because his father died, but because he apparently hasn't killed him, as the prophecy had predicted.  Oedipus exuberantly proclaims, But now, all those prophecies I feared-Polybus packs them off to sleep with him in hell! They're nothing, worthless. Thus, both Oedipus and Jocasta are reassured, not realizing the true genealogy of the king.  Yet when the messenger hears the nature of their relief, he nonchalantly dispels the idea that Polybus is Oedipus' true father, saying that Oedipus was a gift to Polybus and Merope, brought to Corinth as a baby. In fact, this messenger himself seems to be the shepherd who found Oedipus lying on the side of Mount Cithaeron.  Wanting more information, Oedipus questions the messenger about how he was tied to the mountain.  The shepherd tells him that he was pinned by the ankles.  This testimony is confirmed when Oedipus reaches down to reveal scares on his ankles.  As the messenger alludes to, the Greek name Oidipous literary means swollen foot.

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