Oedipus Rex and the Riddle

Topics: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Tiresias Pages: 4 (1520 words) Published: October 31, 2005
Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles is a Greek tragedy built on the basis of a riddle given by the maleficent Sphinx, who in Egypt is considered the protector of the three pyramids, however, the perspective given to us by the narrator in this drama allows us to view that it is really a "disease" which plagues, torments and confines the citizens of Thebes. Despite that fact, the Sphinx can represent all that is rational about man, as in the tragedy she chooses to challenge man's thought and intellect by imposing a riddle in which only those who possess the qualities and abilities could solve such as Oedipus, though arrogant and self-confident, he is the only one of those who tried and---died able to unravel the "mystery" the riddle, or so it may seem.

"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 responded confidently with the answer, Man and like the old saying the answer to any great riddle is just as important as the person who answers it. This statement can obviously help to focus on the fact that the riddle of the Sphinx is really a metaphor of Oedipus and of life in general.

A hero is born with the defeat of the Sphinx, the city is cleansed of the evil and prosperity is restored. However, for Oedipus who gained the title of king, life is far from perfect, despite his heroic deed. With that being said, it is ironic that he fails to see an important aspect of the riddle and thus because of this "blindness" he ultimately throws himself at inevitability. Correspondingly, the theme of blindness heavily relates to his misperception of the riddle. Though as a tragic hero, Oedipus is a man who sees but one side of the situation. Thus, it is befitting for Sophocles to utilize such a theme and situate it with the Sphinx as an underlying, key element in the play. This blindness can be furthered emphasized when Oedipus begins to boast that he is superior to the...
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