Oedipus the King Characters

Oedipus: Oedipus is the central figure and tragic hero of Sophocles’ play. Though he is initially the majestic king of Thebes, he soon becomes a dejected man, humbled by his horrible fate. As the oracle predicts, Oedipus kills his father and sleeps with his mother. When Oedipus learns what he has done, he chooses exile, leaving Creon to be king.

Priest: The priest is seen briefly at the play’s opening. He implores Oedipus and the gods to end the plague of the city.

Creon: Creon is the brother of Jocasta and therefore brother-in-law of Oedipus. At first, Oedipus accuses Creon of trying to unseat him as king, but Creon is eventually exonerated when Oedipus realizes his own guilt in the murder of Laius. When the dejected Oedipus leaves Thebes at the end of the play, Creon becomes king.

Tiresias: Tiresias is the old, blind prophet/seer who tells Oedipus his fate. Tiresias has the special gift of foresight and prophecy, which he learns from the gods. In many ways, he is the gods’ messenger. Though Oedipus accuses him, too, of treason, Tiresias is proved right in the end.

Jocasta: Jocasta is the queen of Thebes. She is first married to Laius, but after Laius is murdered and Oedipus becomes the new king, she marries him. Eventually she realizes that Oedipus is her son and that the tragic oracle has been fulfilled.

Chorus and Leader: The Chorus and their leader are seen throughout the play. The Chorus usually represents the townspeople as a whole as they respond to the new twists in the plot. The Chorus is also a way for Sophocles to reveal the major themes of his tragedy.

Shepherd: The shepherd confirms Oedipus’ tragic fate by telling the king that Jocasta and Laius are his true parents. This shepherd sends Oedipus, then an infant, to Corinth to live as the son of Polybus.

Antigone/Ismene: These are the daughters of Oedipus who cry with him towards the end of the play.