Oedipus at Colonus



Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Oedipus at Colonus makes teaching easy.

Redemption and Atonement Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
Redemption and Atonement Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Oedipus at Colonus, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Redemption and Atonement Theme Icon

Oedipus killed his father and married his mother, driving his mother to suicide, causing his exile, and ensuring a miserable life for his daughter and traveling companion, Antigone. And yet, Oedipus didn't knowingly commit these acts, didn't wish to commit them, and punished himself harshly by gouging out his eyes and wandering the land as an outcast and beggar.

By accepting his fate and punishment in Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus has atoned for his guilt. He is at peace in the grove of the Furies, the avenging spirits of Greek mythology who punished those who killed a parent or sibling—or who broke their oaths. In addition, in his blindness, he now has powers of prophecy, as well as the power to offer eternal protection to a deserving leader of a just city. Oedipus at Colonus shows Oedipus's final transformation from an outcast in life to a hero in death—a redemption earned through years of hardship and remorse. His miraculous death proves that the gods who brought on his awful fate feel that he has suffered enough and has earned a kind of immortality. They welcome him to the underworld so that he may at last rest in peace.

Related Themes from Other Texts
Compare and contrast themes from other texts to this theme…

Redemption and Atonement ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Redemption and Atonement appears in each section of Oedipus at Colonus. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
How often theme appears:
section length:
Get the entire Oedipus at Colonus LitChart as a printable PDF.
Oedipus at Colonus PDF

Redemption and Atonement Quotes in Oedipus at Colonus

Below you will find the important quotes in Oedipus at Colonus related to the theme of Redemption and Atonement.
Lines 1-576 Quotes
Look through all humanity: you'll never find
a man on earth, if a god leads him on,
who can escape his fate.
Related Characters: Oedipus (speaker)
Page Number: 266-268
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 577-1192 Quotes
Never, I tell you, I will never shrink
from a stranger, lost as you are now,
or fail to lend a hand to save a life.
I am only a man, well I know,
and I have no more power over tomorrow,
Oedipus, than you.
Related Characters: Theseus (speaker), Oedipus
Page Number: 636-641
Explanation and Analysis:
And if,
once I'd come to the world of pain, as come I did,
I fell to blows with my father, cut him down in blood—
blind to what I was doing, blind to whom I killed—
how could you condemn that involuntary act
with any sense of justice?
Related Characters: Oedipus (speaker), Creon
Page Number: 1112-1117
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Lines 1193-1645 Quotes
May the gods reward you just as I desire,
you and your great country. Here among you,
you alone of all mankind—
I have discovered reverence, humanity
and lips that never lie.
Related Characters: Oedipus (speaker), Theseus
Page Number: 1275-1279
Explanation and Analysis:
It isn't good for men with a decent cause
to beg too long, or a man to receive help,
then fail to treat a fellow victim kindly.
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker), Oedipus
Page Number: 1366-1368
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 1646-2001 Quotes
God of eternal sleep, I call to you,
let Oedipus rest forever.
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Oedipus
Page Number: 1788-1789
Explanation and Analysis: