Unraveling the Enigma: Who Killed Laius?

The mythological narrative surrounding the death of Laius, the esteemed king of Thebes in Greek mythology, has long been a subject of fascination and intrigue. The question of who was responsible for Laius’ demise has intrigued scholars and enthusiasts alike. In this expert article, we will delve into the available sources and examine the facts surrounding the tragic end of Laius.

The Prophecy of Doom

Laius’ ill-fated journey to his demise began with a chilling prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi. According to the oracle, if Laius were to father a child, that child would eventually kill him and marry his own mother. Such a prophecy cast a dark shadow over Laius’ life, foretelling a grim destiny that would unfold in tragic ways.

The Forbidden Union

Despite the dire warning, Laius defied fate and married Jocasta, his queen and wife. Together, they had a son named Oedipus, unaware of the terrible consequences that awaited them. This forbidden union set the stage for a tragic sequence of events that would lead to Laius’ untimely demise.

The Exposed Child

To avert the prophecy, Laius made a fateful decision. He ordered for baby Oedipus to be exposed on Mount Cithaeron, leaving him to perish. However, the hands of destiny intervened, and the infant was rescued by a shepherd who raised him as his own.

The Revelation and the Journey

As Oedipus grew into adulthood, he became aware of the doubts surrounding his parentage. Seeking answers, he consulted the Oracle of Delphi, hoping to unravel the truth. The oracle’s response was a cruel revelation: Oedipus was destined to kill his own father.

Unbeknownst to Oedipus, he set out on a journey that would ultimately bring him face to face with Laius. In a tragic twist of fate, their paths crossed, and a fatal confrontation ensued.

A Tragic Encounter

On the road to Thebes, Oedipus encountered a group led by Laius, not recognizing him as his father. In a moment of heightened emotions, Oedipus unknowingly killed Laius and most of his attendants. The tragedy of the situation unfolded as the prophecy was fulfilled, sealing Laius’ tragic fate.

The Final Resting Place

Following his death, Laius was laid to rest at the very location where he met his untimely end. Damasistratus, the king of Plataea, oversaw the burial rites, ensuring that Laius received a dignified final resting place.


The question of who killed Laius finds its resolution in the tragic figure of Oedipus, his own son. The intertwining threads of prophecy, defiance of fate, and unwitting actions led to the fateful demise of Laius. This timeless myth serves as a poignant reminder of the inescapable power of destiny and the consequences of attempting to alter its course.


  1. “Death of Laius. A.M. 2728” | National Museums Liverpool. Available at: https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/artifact/death-of-laius-am-2728
  2. “Laius” – Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laius
  3. “Who Killed Laius?” by Karl Harshbarger | Tulane Drama Review | Cambridge Core. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/5FFDD47C140D55B78E9D68D9CC7EE0F0/S0886800X00536828a.pdf/who-killed-laius.pdf


Who was Laius?

Laius was a prominent figure in Greek mythology and the king of Thebes. He played a significant role in the tragic tale of Oedipus and his own untimely demise.

What was the prophecy that Laius received?

Laius received an oracle from the Delphic Oracle, which warned him that if he had a child, that child would grow up to kill him and marry his wife.

Who killed Laius?

Laius was killed by his own son, Oedipus. Unaware of their familial ties, Oedipus encountered Laius on his journey to Thebes and, in a confrontation, unintentionally took his life.

Why did Laius order for baby Oedipus to be exposed?

Laius ordered for baby Oedipus to be exposed on Mount Cithaeron to prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled. He believed that by getting rid of the child, he could avert his own tragic fate.

How did Oedipus learn about his parentage?

Oedipus learned about his parentage through various revelations. As he grew older, doubts surrounding his origins arose, prompting him to consult the Oracle of Delphi. It was during this consultation that he discovered the prophecy that he would kill his father.

Did Oedipus know that he was killing his own father?

No, Oedipus was unaware of his true parentage when he encountered Laius on his journey. The tragic irony lies in the fact that Oedipus unknowingly fulfilled the prophecy by taking the life of his own father.

Where was Laius buried?

Laius was buried at the location where he was killed by Damasistratus, the king of Plataea. The exact details of his burial rites may vary in different versions of the myth.

What lessons can be learned from the story of Laius?

The story of Laius serves as a cautionary tale about the power of destiny and the consequences of attempting to defy it. It highlights the notion that sometimes our actions, even when done with good intentions, can lead to tragic outcomes beyond our control.