Percy Shelley: Poems

Oedipus Tyrannus: Advertisement

[Begun at the Baths of San Giuliano, near Pisa, August 24, 1819;]

published anonymously by J. Johnston, Cheapside (imprint C.F.

Seyfang), 1820. On a threat of prosecution the publisher surrendered

the whole impression, seven copies--the total number sold--excepted.

"Oedipus" does not appear in the first edition of the "Poetical

Works", 1839, but it was included by Mrs. Shelley in the second

edition of that year. Our text is that of the editio princeps, 1820,

save in three places, where the reading of edition 1820 will be found

in the notes.


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repealed by the Boeotarchs.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


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.