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Oedipus the King

This is our Honors English class project on Oedipus the King. Our class collectively translated the play "Oedipus the King" into modern English. If you are interested in reading the entire play from the beginning click here.

Pg. 63-65

OEDIPUS: Pray! And for your prayer . . . possibly you will find help; if you will aid with the distress and listen obediently to what I have to say about this strange story. I am not familiar with the tale because I did not witness it and have no clues to guide me. Yet now, as a fellow citizen of Thebes, I will tell you my only decree.

Does anyone know who murdered King Laius, Labdacus's son? If so, you must explain the truth to me. If the person who has committed the crime is present, come forth. There will not be a punishment. If someone knows who has committed the murder, tell me. I will give you a reward and Thebes add her gratitude.

What? You still will not come forth with the truth. If you fear for your friend or yourself and will not tell, then I will take things into my own hands. Whoever the murderer may be, I will make him an outlaw in my land. He will have no company, and no shelter, and no drinks offered. Keep him locked out, for he dishonors Thebes as the oracle told by Pythian of Phoebus today.

So I will fight for Laius, and for the god, giving this curse upon the secret criminal - and will be killed by the hands of one or many, as was Laius. Curse the murderer's life! Additionally, if I learn that he is a member of my household, I will still proceed with the punishment that I have announced.

I blame you. Observe this curse, for my sake and the god's, and for Thebes which now stark, in ruin, god-forsaken.

Why was such a crime of a great and respected King, ignored, even by the gods? The King, who was so great, was worth the investigation. Well, you the people failed. Today, since I am now the King, the husband of his wife, who has given birth, thus pledges of our bonds, his children and mine. Not so, that someone killed her husband. Because of this murder of my wife's husband, I will find his murderer as if he were my own father. I will search the criminal, everywhere, and punishment him in revenge for his sons.

If anyone should avoid my task, I pray to the gods for bad crops, no children from their wives, and tragedies upon them that are worse then any occurred before.

On you, and the rest of Thebes, who follow my ways- may honor, who fights for us, and all the gods still have patience and good for you.

CHORUS: King, we did not kill him, nor do we know who did. Apollo should be able to tell us who has killed him, since he has told you the oracle.

OEDIPUS: He was just here. Is there anyone with enough power to force a unwilling god to tell who has killed him?

CHORUS: Yes, there is someone... if we may tell . . .

OEDIPUS: Yes, if you know someone who can, tell!

CHORUS: Teiresias, better then any other man, can tell as well as Phoebus. To him, the seeker of the murderer, we instruct you.

OEDIPUS: In that I haven't been lazy. I have sent for him twice, under Creon's suggesting . . . It is very strange . . . he hasn't come yet?

CHORUS: Well, well. The rest is old, unclear and unimportant talk.

OEDIPUS: What talk? What talk? I can not leave out a single clue.

CHORUS: They said he died, killed by travelers.

OEDIPUS: I heard that too. And no one knows who saw it.

CHORUS: No, if he is fearful, he will not tolerate your dreadful curse. He needs to speak.

OEDIPUS: My words scared the murderer?

CHORUS: But he has his accuser. See! The sacred prophet has been brought here. He holds more of the truth in his soul than any mortal.

(Enter Teiresias, led by a boy.)

OEDIPUS: Teiresias, you are the one that judges all the signs in heaven and earth - the secrets and everything one learns - your eyes are blind, but you can feel our city's unfortunate situation, of this you are the champion, in you alone, Prophet and Prince, we can find the help to save us! Phoebus has sent - perhaps my messengers did not tell you this - this answer to our sending. There is only one way to end the plague: - That is to find and kill or banish King Laius's murderer. Come! Be profuse of your skill. By the hint of birds, by all your protective signs, Up! Save yourself and me, save Thebes, and heal all the impurities of the murdered King! Realize we are in your hands. It is good to serve your peer wall all that I have.

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