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Oedipus limps, because, as a baby he was left to die on Mount Cithaeron, with his ankles skewered. His stick (sceptron) which helps him walk is also the symbol of his authority.

 But now he's faced with a depressed-looking delegation of priests. They carry branches wound with wool, a traditional sign that they have put themselves in Oedipus' hands. Their gods cannot help them. He knows why they've come: a terrible plague is devastating Thebes. Why do they believe that Oedipus can help?