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The Riddle of Doom Sophocles Oedipus the King is a tragic play which discusses the tragic discovery of Oedipus that he has killed his father and married his mother The story of Oedipus was well known to the Athenians Oedipus is the embodiment of the perfect Athenian He is self-confident intelligent and strong willed Ironically these are the very traits which bring about his tragic discovery Oedipus gained the rule of Thebes by answering the riddle of Sphinx Sophocles used the riddle of the sphinx as a metaphor for the 3 phases of Oedipuss life and to further characterize him as a tragic man The Sphinx posed the following riddle to all who came to obtain the rule of Thebes What goes on four feet in the morning two at noon and three in the evening 889 Oedipus correctly answered Man and became the king of Thebes This riddle is a metaphor for the life of Oedipus As a child man crawls on his hands and knees this is the four feet to which the Sphinx refers Also man is at his weakest as a small child He depends solely on others for his nourishment and well being Oedipus was the child of Jocasta and King Laius who was taken to the mountain by a henchman to be killed he wasnt three days old and the boys father fastened his ankles had a henchman fling him away on a barren trackless mountain 790-793 So the omen of the god Apollo that Laius son would kill him and lay with Jocasta would not come true Oedipus was the weakest of his life at this point If it had not been for the shepherd sparing his life and giving him to Polybus to raise as his own Oedipus would have died Man walks on 2 feet when he has matured This is a metaphor for Oedipus when he reaches adulthood and leaves Corinth to
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