Polybus of Corinth

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Polybus (Greek: Πόλυβος) is a figure in Greek mythology. He was the king of Corinth and husband of either Merope or Periboea.


Polybus raised Oedipus as his adopted son, who had been abandoned by his parents Laius and Jocasta of Thebes in Greece. Polybus was the true father of Alcinoe. In virtually all accounts of the mythology, when Oedipus reached adolescence, he consulted with the Delphic Oracle, who told him "You shall kill your father and marry your mother". Obviously horrified and disgusted with such a prophecy, Oedipus imposed self-exile upon himself and kept away from Corinth, as he resolved never to murder King Polybus, who had been a kind father to him. Oedipus was also understandably disgusted the act of murdering Polybus and claiming his wife for himself, as he had no unnatural attraction to Queen Merope. Many years later, after Oedipus won the kingship of Thebes by defeating the Sphinx, did another plague befall Thebes. King Oedipus, in his effort to find the cause of plague due to a patricide, revealed that he was told in his teen years that he was destined to murder his father, and sent a spy to Corinth to see who is currently on the throne. The news of Polybus' death by natural causes was announced by the messenger to Jocasta in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, in which it is mistakenly taken to mean that Oedipus did not kill his father. This would mean that the prophecy that Oedipus would murder his father and marry his mother would be false, and Oedipus expresses relief that he did not commit such a heinous act. Since Polybus was in fact his adoptive father, Oedipus could and did kill his true father, King Laius, and fulfill the prophecy. Oedipus never knew his true destiny until the final parts of the play.