(the name means "throttler")
monster with the head
and breasts of a woman, the
body of a lion, and the
wings of a bird (according
to Greek mythology).
Lying crouched on a rock,
she stopped everyone who
wanted to enter the city of
Thebes and asking them a
riddle, "What is it that
has four feet in the morning,
two at noon, and three at night?"
She killed everyone that couldn't solve the riddle.
When Oedipus solved the riddle by answering,
"Man, who crawls on four limbs as a baby,
walks upright on two as an adult, and walks with the
aid of a stick in old age", the sphinx killed herself.
(Were there many dead bodies around
or none dared to visit Thebes until then?)
In Egyptian mythology,
sphinxes were guardian deities,
and had the body
of a lion and the head of a ram or a man,
mostly resembling the ruling pharaoh.
The most famous of all Egyptian
sphinxes is the Great Sphinx of Giza,
from around 2500 BC, and is about
20 m high and about 73 m long.
During Napoleonic days the Sphinx
head was used for gunnery
practice, hence the 'funny' nose.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
of Giza 1.
of Giza 2.
of Giza 3.
of Giza 4.
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