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The Sphinx and Fate Sophocles Oedipus Rex is a tragic Greek play in which Oedipus Rex the King of Thebes unknowingly follows his fate by killing his father and having children by his mother Oedipus is self-confident intelligent and strong-willed Ironically these are the very traits which bring out his tragic discovery Oedipus gained the rule of Thebes by answering the riddle of the Sphinx Sophocles used the riddle of the Sphinx as a metaphor for the three phases of Oedipus life and to later characterize him as a tragic man The Sphinx terrorized the people of Thebes by killing everyone who failed to answer her riddle What goes on four legs in the morning two legs at noon and three legs in the evening1087 Oedipus came upon the Sphinx and answered the riddle with man and as a reward he became King of Thebes 1087 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 that the Sphinx refers to Also man is weakest as an infant Oedipus was the child of Iokaste and King Laios that was taken to the mountain by a shepherd to be killed so that the prophecy that their new son would kill his father and marry his mother would not come true 1086 Oedipus was the weakest at this point in his life The shepherd spared Oedipuss life by giving him to Polybus and Merope King and Queen of Corinth to raise as their own son 1086 Man walks on two feet when he has matured This is a metaphor for Oedipus when he reaches adulthood and leaves Corinth in order to escape from his fate that the oracle has shown him Oedipus meets a man in a chariot who orders him off the road at a place where three roads meet 1087 Oedipus in anger kills the man and
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