Oedipus the King.

Essay by mck04 November 2003

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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 Athenian's. 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 Oedipus' life and to further characterized him as a tragic man.

The Sphinx posed the following riddle to all who came to obtain the rule of thebes: "What is it that walks on 4 feet and 2 feet and 3 feet and has only one voice, when it walks on most feet it is the weakest?" 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 shepherd to be killed 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 has not been for the shepherd spearing 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...