Best English translation of Oedipus The King

Oedipus rex is one of the major classical greek to be ever written and is a surviving creation of Sophocles major tragedy works. This play is extremely popular and adapted to different races and cultures. The theme of the original text follows the story of a man who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother.

Best English translation of Oedipus The King

The Base of the Story.

The Tragedian piece summary is as follows.

The ruler of Thebes had just received news about his wife giving birth to a boy. However, a prophecy ( The blind prophet ) revealed that the child would kill him and sleep with his wife. Afraid of the prophecy, the ruler, chief councils, royal family, and the queen decided to kill the baby. The queen was ordered to kill the baby, but she, too broken to do it, gave it to a trusted servant to complete the mission.

The Servant took the baby to a mountain top far from the Kingdom and exposed it to death from the element. A shepherd rescued the baby in time and took the child to Polybus, a childless Ruler who led Corinth. Polybus took in the child as his own, not knowing who it was or where it came from.

As the baby grew to adulthood, he found out through a secret rumour that he was not the legitimate son of the royal monarch he knew to be his father. He did not confront his parents with the news.

Determined to know his supposed real parents, he went on to consult the gods about his true parents and possibly his origin. The oracle did not give him a straight answer and instead opined that he was destined to mate with his mother and kill his father.

Oedipu believed that Corinth was his true father, and in desperation to not end up fulfilling the perverse prophecy, fled Corinth and moved towards Thebes, where he would be far away from his father and mother.

En-route to Thebes, Oedipu met an older man with servants blocking his way. Both parties started an argument, and the old man stretched his sceptre towards the younger man to hit him. The young man intercepted and threw the older man off his chariot, killing him. Discovering the man had died, Oedipu fled before the servants of the old man could encircle him. The old man was the ruler of Thebes, Oedipu’s real father.

Best English translation of Oedipus The King

Oedipu entered the Kingdom of Thebes and found it in serious turmoil due to a beast consuming the people of Thebes and passerby. The beast devoured all that couldn’t answer its riddle, and it was said in the city that whoever could answer the riddle would end its reign of terror and automatically be the ruler of Thebes as the former ruler was nowhere to be found. Oedipu was able to answer the riddle and end the curse. He was made monarch and, according to the tradition, was obligated to marry the former queen as a dowager bride. The queen was the former ruler’s wife, Oedipu mother. In marrying her, oedipu fulfilled the prophecy without any of their knowledge.

After a plague broke out in the city and the oracle revealed the true state of things,Oedipu and his mother became aware of what they had done. The queen killed herself while Oedipu removed his eyes and exiled himself.


While the piece was written by Sophocles in ancient Greek, it has been deciphered heavily by different English scholars and poets to understand British and American languages. However, as expected, the redefined text differs in certain areas, just as it was with the Libation bearers where multiple English-translations were reached.

Many interpretations of this story can be found in essays on Oedipus at StudyDriver, including the most satisfactory ones yet. This article will consider those top interpretations and how the public has received them.

David Grene Translation

Considered the most satisfactory interpretation, this is one of the most accepted English-version of the piece among readers. The chorus leader in the piece was referred to as the Thebans elders and accepted by experts to be correct.

Customer reviews on the translated piece have also been great, with many positive comments, remarks and 5 stars in its favour. You can purchase the critical edition of this version and get a more refined interpretation. The purchased piece will be sent to your email address.

E.H Plumptre

The E.H Plumptre version is also well received and is available on Amazon. The product details show that the book is well received with many 5 stars compared to the negative. It is still available and has helped more contemporary readers align with the tragedian piece. The chorus leader is also depicted as a Thebes elder.

Robert Fagles

Known as poet Robert, Fagles’s interpretation of the story in his 1984 piece The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipu the King; Oedipu at Colonus brings the story to life. While the work is dated to almost 40 years ago, it is still in line with recent needs, and a good reader will fully understand the dialogue and complete plays without much stress. This great Greek interpretation is not free, and you will have to pay for the purchase.


There are multiple interpretations on the internet, and the more you dig deeper, the more varying the story tends to become. These interpretations have been duly analysed and considered the most complimenting versions of the main ancient Athenian-greek script.

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