Oedipus the King Scene 3
Creon asks the elders what was said about him, for he is concerned about the rumors that have started spreading. He knows of no feud between himself and Oedipus and it upsets him that the prophet was said to have lied on his behalf. He claims that he has never caused any harm to Oedipus that he knows of, and asks why this accusation was directed at him. As Oedipus enters, he asks Creon how he could come there and accuses him of trying to steal the crown and of murdering Laios. He also accuses Creon of influencing him to call Tiresias down there and to ask for his opinion, which he believes Creon plotted with Tiresias and was the reason Tiresias called him Laios' killer.
Furthermore, he questions why Tiresias didn't come forward at the time of the murder and says that he refuses to be convicted of murder. Creon points out that he has an equal third (the other two thirds belonging to Oedipus and Oedipus' wife) in governing Thebes, and yet he lets Oedipus rule entirely while he enjoys his life and all the pleasures of royalty. Therefore, he says, there is no reason for him to kill Oedipus to take the throne and he does not want to rule. Oedipus is free to judge him, Creon says, but not without some proof, as it is "not right to think good men, without a reason, bad or bad men good." Line 609
Creon believes that it takes time to judge for: "time alone can make it clear a man is just while you can know a traitor in a day." Line 613 While the elders agree to this and say that hasty advice is impure, Oedipus says that if someone plots quickly, he must respond quickly or he will have missed his chance and the other person will have gotten what they wanted. Furthermore, he calls Creon a traitor and says he wants him dead.
Jocasta stops the two men from arguing, reminding them that the city is sick, and that it is wrong of them to put their concerns before the city's concerns. Creon, her brother, swears on his death that he has done nothing of what Oedipus has charged him of. At the same time, the elders agree, asking Oedipus to calm down and believe Creon, for they do not believe he is a fool. They believe Creon's oath and think nobody should cast off a friend as unworthy or doubt their word. Oedipus says that when they seek this, they seek his death or exile from Thebes. This statement brings grief to the elders, as they support and believe Oedipus.
As Creon leaves, Oedipus' wife, Jocasta, asks her husband to explain to her why he is so angry. Oedipus says that Creon is plotting against him and having the prophet say that he killed Laios. In response to this, Jocasta tells Oedipus how there is no truth in what any prophet says as an oracle once predicted that Laios would be killed by his, and her, son (As they were previously married). However, three days after their son was born:
"Laios had the feet of this child bound and pinned. Someone tossed it in a mountain wilderness. So there. Apollo didn't cause this boy to be his father's killer. Laios didn't bear the terror he feared from his son. That's what the words of prophecy defined." Line 717
Although this story was supposed to help Oedipus calm down, it has the opposite effect and Oedipus becomes extremely worried. Oedipus proceeds to ask Jocasta many questions about the place and time of Laios' death, as well as demanding an accurate description of Laios, all of which Jocasta provides. Frantic now, Oedipus summons for the man who had escaped the attack and had brought the news to Thebes. However, the man is not easily to be found because after he came back and found that Oedipus had taken Laios' place, he pleaded with Jocasta to "send him to the fields, the sheep pastures, so far he couldn't even lay eyes on Thebes." Line 761 Because he was such an excellent servant and had won great favor, Jocasta did so. However, Jocasta says that he can be fetched and so he will be searched for.
Meanwhile, Oedipus tells Jocasta why the information he just obtained is worrisome. Oedipus' father was Polybus of Corinth, and one day at a banquet someone was overly intoxicated and called Oedipus a bastard son to his face. When he asked his parents about it, they avoided answering the question; but because the rumors had spread he was extremely curious and went to the Delphi to inquire about it. However, the Healer-god Apollo sent him off, without respecting what he had come for, and instead told him that his fate had terrible things in store for him.
Among these terrible things was the revelation that he was to have sex with his own mother and kill his father. As a result, Oedipus decided to leave Corinth and retreat elsewhere, so that he would not see these oracles fulfilled.
However, when he came near a road that forked in three directions, the people Jocasta had described came in a colt-drawn carriage and tried to get him off the road and shoved him. Oedipus got angry and attacked one man. Another man saw this and attacked Oedipus and cracked his skull. As a result, Oedipus killed all of them except for one.
He now finishes telling the story and feels guilty about killing the men and thinks that he is an evil person. In order to console him, the elders and Jocasta say that this may not have been Laios, as the servant said that they had been attacked by a group of men, and Oedipus had nobody with him.