When Oedipus got to Thebes, there was a monster at the city gates, not letting anyone in
or out. It had the body of a lion and the head of a woman – the Sphinx (Greek for “the
strangler”). It would ask one who approached a question, and if they answered it, they
were allowed to pass. If not, they were strangled. Oedipus approached, and the Sphinx
asked him “What has four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the
evening?” Oedipus answered: a man. Four legs as an infant, two as an adult, and three (2
legs and a cane) late in life. The Sphinx was disgusted that he got it right, so she threw
herself off of a cliff.
The people of Thebes were grateful to Oedipus and made him a hero, and since they had
the problem of their king recently being killed on the road by a gang of thieves
(according to the driver, the only witness), they had no king and he had left no heirs.
Since Oedipus had been raised as a prince, they made him king of Thebes. As king,
Oedipus inherited all of the old king Laius’ power, property…and the queen, Jocasta. He
was young, she was older, both were at their sexual peak, so they got married and had
children. This makes the children Oedipus’ sons and daughters as well as brothers and
sisters. But more importantly, his marriage to Jocasta fulfilled the second part of the
oracle – he had now killed his father and married his mother, and neither of them nor
anyone else knew.
As the years passed, Oedipus had thought that he had beaten the fate of the Oracle, since
he had never gone back to Corinth and thought he had not killed his father and married
his mother. Still, if even one person beat fate, it would have been horrible for human race,
signifying that they could not depend on their gods to know the future.
fell over Thebes, and plagues were always thought to be sent by the gods.
Oedipus, as king of Thebes, had to find out why the gods were angry and had sent a