The tale behind the Sphinx
Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 at 9:51 am
Sphinx was to guard the ancient Greek city of Thebes. She would ask a riddle to all travelers, passer by and those who didn’t answer would be devoured by her. It was said that the Greek Goddess of women and marriage- Hera or Ares, had sent the Sphinx from her Ethiopian homeland to guard Greece.
The most famous riddle she asked was- “ which creature walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the evening?”. She strangled and devoured everyone who was unable to answer. Oedipus, who was later to become the king of Greece was the first person to answer it correctly. The answer was man- who crawls in the early years of his life, walks on two legs during youth and needs a support (three legs) during his old age. In other stories, the Sphinx was startled and asked another question- “Name the two sisters who give birth to each other?”. Oedipus answered this as “day and night” (both words are feminine in Greek).
After this the Sphinx apparently threw herself from a rock and died. Other stories claim that she engulfed herself. There are other versions where she recedes back to heaven as she doesn’t want to kill any more people. Thus, this ended the old religious practices in Greece and saw the rise of the more liberal Olympian gods.