There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel. — Vladimir Lenin

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Blindness and Death of Oedipus

Boeotia was now rid of the Sphinx; and when the Thebans heard the joyful news of its death, they welcomed Œdipus with much joy. In reward for his bravery, they gave him not only the throne, but also the hand of Jocasta, the widowed queen. It was thus that Œdipus, although he did not know it, fulfilled the second part of the prophecy, and married his own mother.

Several years now passed by, during which Œdipus ruled the Thebans so wisely, that they all loved him dearly, and went to him for advice in all their troubles. Finally the good times came to an end; and the people were again terrified, because a plague, or great sickness, broke out in the city, and many of the inhabitants died.

All kinds of medicines were tried, but without effect; and all the gods were asked to lend their aid. In despair, Œdipus sent a messenger to Delphi to ask the oracle how the disease could be stopped. The oracle for once gave a plain answer, and said that the plague would cease only when the murderer of Laius had been found and punished.

Investigations were now made for the first time, and it was found that Œdipus was the one who had slain the king. At the same time, the servant confessed that he had not killed the royal child; and the shepherd told how he had found the babe and carried him to Corinth, where he had been adopted by the king.

When Œdipus heard all this, he was driven almost mad with despair; for now he knew not only that he had murdered his father and married his mother, but that it was on his account that the plague had caused the death of so many people in Thebes.

In her horror and grief at this discovery, Queen Jocasta killed herself. When Œdipus learned that she was dead, he ran into the room where she lay, and took one of the buckles which fastened her dress and put out his eyes with it, saying, that, since they had beheld such a sorrowful sight, they should never again see the light of day.

To rid the city of his accursed presence, and thus if possible, save it from the threatened destruction, Œdipus banished himself, and wandered away, old, blind, and poor, for he would take none of his riches with him.

He departed sorrowfully, leaving his kingdom to his two sons, Eteocles, and Polynices, and telling them to care for their sisters, Antigone and Ismene.

Ismene wept bitterly when she said good-by to her father; but Antigone placed her father's hand upon her shoulder, said that she would never forsake him, and left the city, tenderly supporting and guiding him.

Father and daughter wandered thus from place to place, finding no rest; for all the people shrank from even looking upon Œdipus, who, they said, was evidently accursed by the gods, since he had committed such frightful crimes.

After many days' wandering and much fatigue, the exiles arrived at last on the border of a dark forest held sacred to the Furies,—the goddesses whose duty it was to punish all criminals by tormenting them as long as they lived, and even after they had died.

When Antigone described to her poor blind father the place they had reached, he bade her remain by the roadside, and, groping his way, soon vanished into the forest. He had scarcely gone, when a terrible thunderstorm arose. The air grew dark, the lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, the trees bent and twisted in the wind; and, although Antigone called her father again and again, she heard no answering cry.

When morning came, she went to look for him, but found no trace of him. The people in the neighborhood then told her that the Furies had dragged her father away to punish him for his crimes, and Antigone sadly went back to Thebes.

As soon as she arrived in the city, Antigone hastened to the palace to tell her brothers and sister about their father's sad death; but when she entered her former happy home, she learned that there are sadder things than death, for her brothers were no longer friends, and had begun a terrible quarrel.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province