Laius raped his student, Chrysippus. As a result of his crime, known throughout antiquity as "the crime of Laius" (hybris, or "violent outrage") he and his people were punished by the gods. Hera sent the Sphinx against the Thebans, and Laius was forbidden to have children. His transgression of that command eventually resulted in his death at the hand of his own son, Oedipus, and in the sufferings that Oedipus and his own descendants were to bear.
After the rape of Chrysippus, Laius married Jocasta and (disobeying the divine command in a drunken stupor) fathered Oedipus with her. Discovering Jocasta was pregnant, Laius consulted the Delphic oracle. The oracle claimed the child was destined to kill his father and marry his own mother. Laius ordered the baby, Oedipus, left out in the woods to die, but he was taken by a shepherd and given to King Polybus and Queen Merope (or Periboea) of Corinth who raised him to adulthood.
Oedipus fulfilled his destiny, killing Laius and marrying Jocasta, not realizing they were his natural parents. After discovering that his mother had commited suicide by hanging herself in her room, Oedipus took her brooches and stabbed out his own eyes.
Spoken-word myths - audio files
|The Laius myth as told by story tellers|
|1. Laius and Chrysippus, read by Timothy Carter|
|Bibliography of reconstruction: Pindar, Olympian Ode, I (476 BCE); Apollodorus Library and Epitome 3.5.5 (140 BCE); Hyginus, Fables, 85. Chrysippus; 243. Women who Committed Suicide (1st c. CE); Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.5-10, 6.20.7 (c. 160 - 176 CE); Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, Book XIII, 602 (c. 200 CE); Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, ii, 34, 3 - 5 (150 - 215 CE)|