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The Sphinx

2005-08-25 08:56:00

The Sphinx
I am going to go visit the Sphinx and the Pyramids here in Egypt so I have spent a couple hours reading the Encyclopedia.

A Sphinx has sort of two or three meaning and the big problem for me is to keep the Greek definitions separated and not mixed with the Egyptian definitions.

However, the briefest explanation that is a combination of man and animal with various parts that is more or less looking similar to a human.

Then the next confusion, there is a city of Thebes in Ancient Greece and in Ancient Egypt, plus ones in the modern versions, somehow the Greeks also named the one in Egypt.

Thebes in Egypt is located near the present day city of Luxor.

The fun part is the story of travelers or the mythology of travelers meeting a person with animal parts called a Sphinx. Then it goes further along this strange little path with the man Oedipus. As I remember from psychology 101 this, the Oedipus complex is you love you mother, so you act like your father…. It is many little threads away and many paths to follow to understand further.

The interesting is how a Sphinx in Ancient Greece used to harass the travelers passing by asking a riddle.

The Travelers Riddle

“Sphinx, in Greek mythology, monster with the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of a bird. Lying crouched on a rock, she accosted all who were about to enter the city of Thebes by asking them a riddle, “What is it that has four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?” If they could not solve the riddle, she killed them. When the hero 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. For ridding them of this terrible monster, the Thebans made Oedipus their king.

In ancient Egypt, sphinxes were statues representing deities, with the body of a lion and the head of some other animal or of man, frequently a likeness of the king. The most famous of all Egyptian sphinxes is the Great Sphinx of Giza, near the pyramids. Dating from around 2500 bc, the Great Sphinx is about 20 m (about 66 ft) high and about 73 m (about 240 ft) long.” (2)

This is an interesting story and for sure another traveler tale to entering into my long and convoluted memory and stories of travel. Right up there with the eating of the Lotus and Tin Tin and all the his travels. There has to be a connection between these stories and the ideas Gulliver’s Travels, plus about those trolls under the bridges. The stories travelers can tell never end, of course my friend William says he should always take me to cocktail parties, However with the Sphinx story I am for sure not the first to tell stories.

He told me something like this…

You have a rich bank full of topics for conversation, rich beyond all others; this is what travel gives a person, a never-ending ability to tell stories.