Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Case File: The People of Thebes Commend Oedipus

Police Reports

Case Description: Thebes was in serious trouble. A report said that King Laius had been killed by highwaymen, and the Sphinx, a wicked monster with the body of a lion and the head of a woman, had settled down on a rock near the city. The Sphinx's favorite thing to do was to ask passersby a riddle. When they got the answer wrong—and they always got it wrong—she would kill them and eat them. The people were overjoyed when Oedipus came along, because he was finally able to answer the riddle. When the Sphinx asked, "What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?" Oedipus knew the answer without breaking a sweat. "Man," he said. The Sphinx was so freaked out that she threw herself over a cliff. Everybody was so impressed with Oedipus that they gave him the throne of Thebes and Queen Jocasta as his wife. (Oops.)

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