The king of Thebes, son of Labdacus, and father of Oedipus. After his father's death he was placed under the guardianship of Lycus, and on the death of the latter, Laius was obliged to take refuge with Pelops in the Peloponnese. But when Amphion and Zethus, the murderers of Lycus, who had usurped his throne, had lost their lives, Laius returned to Thebes, and ascended the throne of his father. He married Iocaste (Homer calls her Epicaste), and became by her the father of Oedipus.
The oracle of Delphi foretold him that he would die by his son's hands and so Laius ordered a shepherd to leave the boy on a mountainside to die of exposure. The shepherd took pity on the child and gave him to another shepherd who, in turn, gave the boy to the childless Polybus and Merope, the king and queen of Corinth. The same oracle prophesied that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his own mother. Hearing this, he vowed that he would never return Corinth, to what he thought was his native land and his real parents. Instead, Oedipus traveled to Thebes. On the way to that city he encountered his real father and in a fight over the right-of way killed him, without either party knowing the identity of the other person. Laius' body was buried by Damasistratus, king of Plataeae.
- Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Bartelink, Dr. G.J.M. (1988). Prisma van de mythologie. Utrecht: Het Spectrum.
- Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library v, 64.
- Herodotus. Histories v, 59.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 5.2.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 5.5 ff.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.