Jocasta, who only appears in Oedipus the King, is both Oedipus’s mother and wife, as well as Creon’s sister. Having served as the Queen of Thebes for many years, she believes herself to be well aware of the events surrounding her first-born son’s death, Laius’s murder, and Oedipus’s ascension to the throne. She initially appears as a mediator between Oedipus and Creon as the two argue over Tiresias’s visions, and she tries to convince her husband to dismiss the prophecies by telling him the story of an oracle that wrongly predicted Laius’s murder at the hands of his son. Jocasta speaks with a confident attitude in this moment, one which highlights her belief in the power of human behavior over the will of the gods. Even as Oedipus explains to her that he too received a similar prophecy stating that he would kill his father and marry his mother, she maintains that nothing can be predicted and tells him not to worry. This behavior reveals her hubris and suggests that from her position of authority, she feels protected from the tales that others tell about her fate.
By the time a messenger from Corinth arrives and explains that one of Laius’s herdsmen was responsible for binding Oedipus’s ankles and removing him from Thebes as an infant, Jocasta seems to realize that the prophecies surrounding Oedipus’s identity are true. Rather than admitting this, however, she continues to deny the possibility and begs Oedipus to drop the subject. She seems to have two possible motives for behaving this way. One reason she may hide the truth is due to her deep love for Oedipus, a love which drives her to protect him from pain at all costs. Knowing the decreed punishment for Laius’s killer, she cannot bear to see her husband/son suffer in such a manner. Jocasta’s second motive is to protect herself, for the prophecies also involve her as the mother who married and bore her son’s children. Jocasta’s suicide in the aftermath of Oedipus’s revelations suggests that she cannot bear the personal guilt and public shame of her involvement in such a horrifying situation. Although she is not the play’s tragic hero, she too faces fatal consequences for trying to outsmart the gods.