Percy Bysshe Shelley: Advertisement for Oedipus Tyrannus

by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Act 1


This Tragedy is one of a triad, or system of three Plays (an arrangement according to which the Greeks were accustomed to connect their dramatic representations), elucidating the wonderful and appalling fortunes of the SWELLFOOT dynasty. It was evidently written by some LEARNED THEBAN, and, from its characteristic dulness, apparently before the duties on the importation of ATTIC SALT had been repealed by the Boeotarchs. The tenderness with which he treats the PIGS proves him to have been a sus Boeotiae; possibly Epicuri de grege porcus; for, as the poet observes,

'A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind.'

No liberty has been taken with the translation of this remarkable piece of antiquity, except the suppressing a seditious and blasphemous Chorus of the Pigs and Bulls at the last Act. The work Hoydipouse (or more properly Oedipus) has been rendered literally SWELLFOOT, without its having been conceived necessary to determine whether a swelling of the hind or the fore feet of the Swinish Monarch is particularly indicated.

Should the remaining portions of this Tragedy be found, entitled, "Swellfoot in Angaria", and "Charite", the Translator might be tempted to give them to the reading Public.

Dramatis Personae

  • Tyrant Swellfoot, King of Thebes
  • Iona Taurina, His Queen
  • Mammon, Arch-Priest of Famine
  • Purganax, Dakry, Laoctonos-Wizards, Ministers of Swellfoot
  • The Gadfly
  • The Leech
  • The Rat
  • Moses, the Sow-Gelder
  • Solomon, the Porkman
  • Zephaniah, Pig-Butcher
  • The Minotaur
  • Chorus of the Swinish Multitude
  • Guards, Attendants, Priests, etc., etc