The Oedipus Trilogy Timeline

This is the sequence of events in the lives of Oedipus and his family. It is in the order in which the events happened, not in the order that they are revealed in the plays.

Life of Oedipus

Birth of Oedipus

600 BCE

Oedipus was born a prince, son of Laius and Jocasta.

Prophecy and Banishment

599 BCE

Jocasta, hearing the prophecy that her baby would kill her husband, ordered a shepherd to kill Oedipus.

Adoption

598 BCE

The baby, with his feet pinned together, is given by the shepherd to a second shepherd in Corinth. Oedipus is adopted by Polybus and his wife Merope, making Oedipus the prince of Corinth.

Oedipus Leaves Corinth

580 BCE

Hearing a rumor that he was adopted, Oedipus leaves his home.

Oedipus gets prophecy

579 BCE

Oedipus travels to the Oracle at Delphi, who tells him that he will murder his own father, and sleep with his mother. He decides to never return to Corinth.

Oedipus Kills Laius

578 BCE

Oedipus, travelling, meets up with a gang of other travelers. They get into a fight, and Oedipus kills Laius without knowing who he is.

The Riddle of The Sphinx

577 BCE

Oedipus arrives in Thebes, solves the riddle of the Sphinx, and is made their king. He marries Jocasta, Laius' widow.

New Plague in Thebes

560 BCE

There is a new plague in Thebes. Oedipus, the king, who is married to Jocasta and has four children, sends Creon (Jocasta's brother) to the oracle for information.

Oracle gives new prophecy.

559 BCE

In the new prophecy, the Oracle has told Creon that the plague in Thebes will not end until the killer of Laius is solved, and the murderer cursed and driven out of the city-state.

Tiresias the Seer

558 BCE

Oedipus sends for Tiresias, a prophet, who says that Oedipus is the murderer. He also says that the murderer of Laius is both father and brother of his own children, and son of his own wife.

Suspicion of The Truth

557 BCE

Jocasta, Oedipus's wife, tells the story of her first husband (Laius) and how he was killed at a three-way crossroads by a band of thieves. Oedipus tells of how, at the same time, he was harassed at the same crossroads and killed a man in self-defense. They send for the only survivor of the attack on Laius.

A Message from Corinth

556 BCE

Jocasta gets a message from Corinth that Oedipus's "father" Polybus as died, and that the city-state wants their prince to return to rule. Jocasta and Oedipus rejoice that he has not killed his father, and that the prophecies are wrong.

Uh-Oh

555 BCE

The messenger tells Oedipus that he doesn't have to worry about the second part of the prophecy, which says he will sleep with his mother, because Merope is not his real mother, and he was adopted as a baby. In fact, the messenger is the shepherd who was given the baby by a servant of Laius.

The Truth Emerges

554 BCE

Oedipus sends for the original shepherd, who tells him that Jocasta was the mother of the baby, and ordered him killed because of the prophecy that he would kill his parents. The shepherd took pity on the baby and gave it to the Corinthian shepherd.

Tragic Ending

553 BCE

Oedipus, realizing that he truly did kill his father and marry his mother, runs back into the Palace, where he finds Jocasta dead, having hanged herself when she realized what she had done. Seeing this, Oedipus tears the pins off her dress and uses them to gouge out his own eyes. He begs Creon (Jocasta's brother) to look after his daughters and to send him away. Creon takes over as the king.

Oedipus and Antigone are in Colonus

536 BCE

Burial Place

535 BCE

Oedipus finds out that he is in the grove belonging to the goddess of fate, Eumenides. His original prophecy had predicted that he would die in this place.

News of Thebes

534 BCE

Oedipus's other daughter, Ismene, comes from Apollo's oracle at Delphi. She has learned that her brother Eteocles (younger son) has overthrown Polynices, the elder, and is ruling Thebes with Creon. Polynices is now in Argos amassing troops for an attack on Thebes. She also says that the city of Oedipus's eventual burial will be good luck for the city, so Polynices and Creon are coming to get Oedipus so he can die in Thebes.

Theseus Helps

533 BCE

King Theseus of Athens arrives to help Oedipus, promising to protect him from his sons and Creon, even though Oedipus warns him that the city of Thebes will be angry.

Creon Enters

532 BCE

Creon comes to the grove to kidnap Oedipus, but fails, and kidnaps Antigone and Ismene instead. Theseus goes after and rescues the girls.

Polynices Arrives

531 BCE

Polynices, Oedipus's older son, comes to ask for his father's support. Oedipus asks Theseus to drive Polynices out, but Antigone intervenes. Oedipus curses both of his sons, saying they will kill each other. Polynices asks his sisters to bury him should he die in battle.

Oedipus Dies

530 BCE

Oedipus determines that his time of death has come, and asks Theseus to take him away and perform a burial rite. Theseus alone will know where Oedipus is buried, and will only tell his heirs, so that Athens will be safely ruled forever.

After the Death

529 BCE

After Oedipus has died, Antigone asks Theseus to tell her where the body is buried, but he refuses. They ask for safe passage back to Thebes in hope of preventing the war between their two brothers.

The Brothers are Dead

528 BCE

Polynices has attacked Thebes, and he and Eteocles both have died, killing each other. Creon rewards the body of Eteocles, who helped him overthrow Polynices, by giving it a hero's burial, but refuses to allow anyone to bury Polynices, saying the vultures should just eat him.

Antigone and Ismene Grieve

527 BCE

At dawn, Antigone tells Ismene that they both should honor the gods and their brother Polynices by performing the sacred burial rites that Creon has forbidden. Ismene is too afraid to go against the king. Antigone is very angry at Ismene and vows to do it herself.