Oedipus believed that he could take on the Sphinx and rid Thebes of the plague. The plague was the gods example of the fault in human condition. Children and mothers were dying and the world was at war with itself. The plague showed that the mortality of being human is a death sentence. The riddle of the Sphinx defines human limits. The first stage is that of a baby, the second is when you are your strongest, and the third stage is when you are old an dying, and there is no way to avoid this cycle. Oedipus fails to recognize the third stage of the riddle in himself even though it is staring him in the face in the form of Teiresias.
Throughout the play, Oedipus is faced with the truth and fails to acknowledge it. He is first told by the drunk at the party, but he dismisses it as just something said by an ignorant drunk. He then visits the oracle and is told his fate determined by the gods and believes he can escape it by fleeing to Thebes. On his way he carries out the first part of the fate by killing his father. He then makes it to Thebes and marries Jocasta, unknowingly fulfilling the fate. Teiresias finally tells Oedipus the horrible truth, but Oedipus calls him a liar and fails to recognize the truth again. When Oedipus finally figures that what the oracle, drunk, and Teiresias was all true, he cannot handle it and blinds himself while Jocasta kills herself.
Oedipus believes he can surpass that of what any man had ever achieved. He believed that he had conquered the Sphinx and solved the riddle. He believes he is the greatest of all Thebans and can make all the mysteries of the people of Thebes plain. He prides himself as the seeker of truth and will not stray from his mission of finding truth. Oedipus does not understand the chorus cries for the wisdom of the modest life as his hubris grows and grows and continues to anger the gods. He is quick to recognize the faults and limits of all the people of Thebes but does not understand that he too, contains the same flaws. The riddle which he believes he solves, he never truly understands. He doesnt know himself and does not recognize that the truth can sometimes bring terror and that there are some truths which are not meant to be known.
Oedipus is the example that Socrates made for all people who fail to recognize their limits as human beings. Oedipus goes throughout the whole story believing that he is the greatest of all men and the solver of the riddle and savior of Thebes. Throughout the play he believes he escaping his fate but plays right into the gods hands. His continues to climb the ladder of humanity until he is finally dropped from it by the gods in the revealing of the truth.