In terms of the concept of hubris in Oedipus Rex, can someone explain this quote?    Or why when the bitch-dog Sphinx of riddles sang,                                    You...

In terms of the concept of hubris in Oedipus Rex, can someone explain this quote?    

Or why when the bitch-dog Sphinx of riddles sang,                                    You never spoke a thing to break the spell?                                               And yet her riddle called for insight trained---                                           Not traveler's guess---                                                                                            Which you plainly show you did not have                                                   Either from theology or birds.                                                                   But I, the Oedipus who stumbled here without a hint,                                 Could snuff her out by human wit,                                                                   Not taking cues from birds.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Examining the quote from Oedipus indicates much in way of his hubris.  Part of where Oedipus' tragic condition lies in the idea that he believes in the certainty of his own authenticity.  His state of being is defined by certainty and the belief that he can do anything.  He lacks the comprehension to understand that there are elements that may exist outside his own control or his own dominion.  In solving the riddle of the Sphinx, one sees this sense of pride in oneself in which Greek thinkers like Sophocles saw danger evident.  This can be seen in the quote when he uses the first half of the quote to talk about how few others could do what he did because they lack the capacity for doing so.  Oedipus' pride enables him to make a sharp contrast between those who use divine elements as opposed to certainty in human endeavor to take action.  For Oedipus, the use of fated elements in decision making and taking action is a sign of weakness or or inferiority.  In the second half and closing element of the quote, there is a clear distinction made in what Oedipus is able to do as something that few others could do.  This disdain is evident, something linked to his own sense of ego and pride in self.  In this, his pride is evident and his fatal flaw, something that can be linked to his own behavior becomes evident.

idominate | Student

Thank you so much. It was such a great interpretation. 

idominate | Student

The indentations does not represent any significance, it was just a formatting error. 

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Oedipus Rex

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