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date: 03 December 2022



  • Andrew Brown


Daughter of *Menoeceus (1), sister of *Creon (1), wife of *Laius, mother and later wife of *Oedipus. She is called Epicaste (’Επικάστη) by *Homer, Iocaste (’Ιοκάστη, Lat. Iocasta, Eng. Jocasta) by the tragedians. In tragedy she is the mother, by Oedipus, of *Eteocles, Polynices, *Antigone, and Ismene, though an alternative tradition in the Oidipodeia (see epic cycle) and elsewhere said that these were the children of Oedipus by a second wife, Euryganeia.A late passage at Od. 11. 271–80 includes Epicaste among the women whom *Odysseus saw in the underworld. She had unwittingly married her son Oedipus, but the gods had soon made this known and she had hanged herself, leaving Oedipus to be pursued by her *Erinyes. *Sophocles (1) follows this account for the manner of Jocasta’s death (OT1263–4, Ant.53–4), though not for the timing of events or for the Erinyes. In *Euripides' Phoenissae, however, where she has a leading role, she survives up to the war between Eteocles and Polynices, tries to prevent their deaths, and kills herself with a sword (1455–9) when she has failed to do so.


  • Greek Literature
  • Greek Myth and Religion

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