Oedipus the King

in king oeidipus what is the answer to the sphinx riddle?

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"Man" is the answer to the Sphinx's riddle! But not just any man - Oedipus solves the riddle, Oedipus ends the sphinx's reign of terror over the people of Thebes, Oedipus brings a new era of harmony to the city of Thebes by besting this mythic and metaphorical threat to human culture and society.

But ironically (and necessarily), this man who overcomes the great threat to human culture posed by the sphinx is the same man responsible for causing an even more serious pollution and rending of the social fabric: this same man commits the cardinal sins of patricide/regicide and incest - the one is disallowed by ancient and modern law because of its threat to society (see Aeschylus' Oresteia), the other is a mythic taboo first - mythic heroes are supposed to eradicate such threats, not cause them (I am reminded of Claude Levi-Strauss' conclusion that cannibalism and incest are two sides of the same coin, being the most exaggerated forms of sex and eating).