The Oedipus cross-roads

"The place where three roads meet"

[The Crossroads]Our lone traveller (actually my colleague universally known as Hopey) is on his way from Delphi to Thebes (really he's only walked the last couple of hundred yards from where we parked the car by the garage on the motorway) and is approaching the probable site of "the place where three roads meet". On the left is the western edge of the Parnassus massif, with the new motorway scarring its flank. No ancient traveller would have been able to follow the route of this road, but would have threaded his way through the pass to the south, before emerging onto this open valley, making his way downhill towards the lowest ground.

There is a low hill now on your right, and ahead of you is the valley where a little-used road leading north is still signposted "Daulia". As you reach the valley bottom, a new gulley emerges on your right - this is where a path still follows the ancient route east towards Thebes. In the picture a minor road bisects the middle-distance: this is a red-herring, and has no relevance to the ancient trivia where Oedipus had the fated meeting with his father. The actual crossroads is a few hundred yards further on. The track up the narrow valley towards Thebes would have provided an excellent spot for the encounter: there would have been little room for manoeuvre for a waggon coming down towards the road-junction, even one man refusing to get out of the way would be enough to make progress impossible.

So, do I believe Sophocles had researched this place? Of course not; but nevertheless, there is a junction now as there always was, and that is where the story happened: at a real place, which no traveller knowing the tale could ignore whether on his way like Oedipus from Delphi, or like Laius from Thebes. One can imagine a Laius daunted by the hard climb ahead over Parnassus, meeting an Oedipus tired and irritable from the long steep descent. Then as now few would have taken the third road to the remote village of Daulia.