Riddles of the Sphinx



In classic literature, the Sphinx had a lion body with wings and the voice of a woman. The Greeks and Egyptians found this creature to be highly intelligent and dangerous. She gave nasty riddles and if the person could not answer, tore them into bits.

The riddle posed to Oedipus was -

What animal begins on four feet, then walks on two feet, and finally walks on three feet?

Answer: man
* at birth, a baby crawls on all fours
* as an adult, a human walks on two feet
* in old age, a walking stick helps the person walk

Interestingly, the classic Sphinx sculpture in Egypt is considered by many to be an alteration of an original design. While most sculptures have a proportional head, with the Egyptian large sphinx the head is much smaller. It is as if the original statue had a lion head - and then they 'carved it down' to make it into a human head.

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