Journal 14

Journal 14 - back from the famine The sphinx does not take...

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I have read “Oedipus the King” three times in all, including this last time and I have always enjoyed it but the one thing that remains an oddity to me is the insertion of the Sphinx and the riddle within the play. Why is this included in the play, especially, to me, a sphinx always reminds me of Egyptian life, not Greek life? After much thought and a little research, I believe that the Sphinx and the riddle were included to show that the Sphinx acts as the guardian to the polis, in our case, Thebes, and the riddle is there to represent Oedipus’ life and the life of the polis. To begin, the Sphinx can be seen as the guardian of Thebes because he decides if the town will prosper and grow or if it will retreat into famine and diminish. In Thebes, the only way for the guardian, Sphinx, to continue to let it prosper is for the riddle to be solved, which is later done by Oedipus. We see here that the sphinx decided to put the town into famine- he is the controller of this town. But also he is the protector- Once the riddle is solved Thebes bounces
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Unformatted text preview: back from the famine. The sphinx does not take back what he says he would do. The riddle, which will not be repeated because it is already known, is also mysterious to me within the context of the play; however, I have come to a conclusion about it as well. The answer to the riddle is man. The riddle provides an interpretation to main character of the play who can answer the riddle correctly, Oedipus. Oedipus starts as a baby, grows to a man, and his own deeds which lead to his downfall carries him into his old age and death. This riddle also represents the life of the polis guarded still by the Sphinx. The polis first starts small and grows where it is able to prosper and continue on its own two feet, no pun intended. The “maker” of the polis is also the one who leads the polis to its down, the three legs, just as the “maker” of Oedipus, himself, leads his own life into the downfall that has conquered him....
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