A Lifetime of Transitions
What animal walks on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening, yet has only one voice?
—THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX
—OEDIPUS’S SOLUTION TO THE RIDDLE
THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX WAS NO MERE TEST of wit, for it imparted valuable wisdom concerning how a person “stands” in the world. The riddle represents a model of the human lifetime in which there are two pivotal turning points. The first is the transition to the condition described in the phrase “standing on your own two feet”—that is, the transition from dependency to separateness and independence. The second turning point, coming somewhere in the afternoon of life, is symbolized by the acquisition of the cane or staff, ...