Oedipus at Colonus

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The Grove of the Furies Symbol Analysis

The Grove of the Furies Symbol Icon
The Furies were the avenging spirits of Greek mythology who punished those who broke the laws of nature or of the gods—such as killing a parent or sibling—or who broke their oaths. The fact that Oedipus is at peace in the grove that is sacred to the Furies suggests that he is no longer being persecuted for his past deeds. The grove represents Oedipus's atonement and redemption.

The Grove of the Furies Quotes in Oedipus at Colonus

The Oedipus at Colonus quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Grove of the Furies. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Oedipus at Colonus published in 1984.
Lines 577-1192 Quotes
So now I cry to those Great Goddesses,
I beg them, I storm them with my prayers—
Come to the rescue, fight for me, my champions!
So you can learn your lesson, Creon, learn
what breed of men stands guard around this city.
Related Characters: Oedipus (speaker), Creon
Related Symbols: The Grove of the Furies
Page Number: 1155-1159
Explanation and Analysis:

Oedipus speaks these lines shortly after Creon has seized Antigone (Ismene has already been seized). Here, Oedipus appeals to those "Great Goddesses"--likely referring to the Furies he directly addressed upon arriving at the Grove of the Furies in Colonus--and asks them to support him in opposing Creon.

Oedipus equates the "lesson" he wants Creon to learn with comprehending "what breed of men stands guard around this city." This "breed," represented by someone such as Theseus, stands for and upholds a sense of justice that, for Oedipus, is much more virtuous than Creon's (and that Sophocles clearly intends to praise and valorize, as he himself is a citizen of Colonus and Athens). If Creon could come to understand this sense of justice, then his entire project--his corrupt way of trying to manipulate Oedipus into returning to Thebes--would lose its value, since his entire mission is based on self-interest and the gaining of power. Unlike Theseus, Creon gives no regard for whether Oedipus is treated justly or not.

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The Grove of the Furies Symbol Timeline in Oedipus at Colonus

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Grove of the Furies appears in Oedipus at Colonus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-576
Guilt Theme Icon
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
...after Oedipus was banished from Thebes, the city he once ruled. The play begins in the grove of the Furies at Colonus, which is close to and ruled by the great city of Athens. Oedipus... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
Redemption and Atonement Theme Icon
...approaches and demands that they move from their resting place, because it is holy ground, the grove of the Furies . Oedipus responds that this is a sign and that in fact he must not... (full context)
Guilt Theme Icon
...terrible Furies. When Oedipus speaks to them, they tell him he must step out of the grove of the Furies . He does, with Antigone's help, and sits on a rocky area just outside the... (full context)