Q.17. What circumstances led to Oedipus’s encounter with the monster Sphinx and its destruction?

Ans. Laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes, were warned by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, that their newborn son was destined some day to kill his father and marry his mother. Laius riveted the baby’s (Oedipus) ankles, gave him to a servant to leave him in the mountains to die there from exposure. That servant, out of pity, gave it to a Corinthian shepherd who in turn gave it to the childless king Polybus of Corinth. There the baby was named Oedipus and was brought up as the prince of Corinth. When Oedipus became young he heard vague rumours that Polybus was not his real father. He went to Delphi to learn the truth frém the oracle. The same prophecy was repeated — he would kill his father and marry his mother. To avoid doing his (supposed) parents any harm, he decided not to return to Corinth while they were alive. He travelled through Greece and eventually came into the vicinity of Thebes. At that time Thebes was being ravaged by a savage monster, Sphinx. At a crossroads Oedipus encountered Laius, a dispute took place, and he killed Laius and his companions. He continued on his way to Thebes. Outside the city he met the Sphinx, the monster with woman’s head, lion’s body, eagle’s wings, and serpent’s tail. She asked every Tbeban to solve a riddle, and ate him up if he could not. Oedipus solved the riddle, and the monster was mortified. She leaped from the Mount Phicium and dashed herself to pieces in the valley below.

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