Oedipus And The Sphinx 1864
Oedipus and the Sphinx is an 1864 oil on canvas painting by Gustave Moreau that was first exhibited at the French Salon of 1864 where it was an immediate success. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The work was a fresh treatment of the established subject of the meeting between Oedipus and the Sphinx on the road to Delphi, notably portrayed at Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex. The painting depicts Oedipus meeting the Sphinx at the crossroads on his journey between Thebes and Delphi. Oedipus must answer the Sphinx's riddle correctly in order to pass. Failure means his own death and that of the besieged Thebans. The riddle was: "What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?". Oedipus answered: "Man: as an infant, he crawls on all fours; as an adult, he walks on two legs and; in old age, he uses a walking stick". Oedipus was the first to answer the riddle correctly and, having heard Oedipus' answer, the Sphinx was astounded and inexplicably killed herself by throwing herself into the sea. Oedipus thereby won the freedom of the Thebans, the kingdom of that city, and a wife Jocasta, who was later revealed to be his mother.
May 3rd, 2021
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