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The Greek Mythology of the Sphinx

In Greek mythology, the Sphinx was a female monster with the body of a lion, the head and breast of a woman, eagle wings and according to some, a serpent’s tail. Many people know the myth of the Sphinx as a monster who devours all who fails to solve her riddle.

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She was sent by the Gods to plague the town of Thebes as punishment for some ancient crime. Most people know the story of how Laius, king of Thebes, once fell in love with Pelops’ son, Chrysippus (before he was king) of Elis in the northwest Peloponnese. Laius lured Chrysippus out of town and raped him, then fled back to Thebes as Pelops cursed him for his transgression. When he returned, all of the father’s successors to the throne were dead so Laius ascends to the vacant throne, where he married Jocasta. Later, an oracle informed him that he will be killed by his own son. Laius was angry so as a result, he refuses to have any intercourse with his wife until one drunken night. When Jocasta gave birth to a son, Lauis had the baby’s feet pinned together so that the baby’s ghost wouldn’t walk. He ordered a shepherd to abandon the child in the mountains however, the shepherd gave the child to a friend of his. This friend gave the baby to Polybus, King of Corinth and his wife Meriope. Years passed by, now Lauis has thought that the child was dead, he had no more worries but the Sphinx. While Lauis was visiting Delphi to figure out how to get rid of the Sphinx, his brother-in-law Creon declared that anyone who can solve the Sphinx’s riddle can become the next King of Thebes. Meanwhile, the child (all grown up), named Oedipus, wondered who were his parents were but his adoptive mother wouldn’t reveal his parents to him. So he decided to visit Delphi, where an oracle informed him that he will kill his own father and marry his own mother. Horrified, he abandoned Corinth. On the way to Thebes, he encountered the Sphinx. The Sphinx, as usual, asked him a riddle: “What goes on four legs in the morning, two at midday, and three in the evening? “. Oedipus solved the riddle with “Man”, or a human being. The Sphinx, in anger, threw herself off the cliff.

There were many questions in this myth as of why the Sphinx was in the story if the original sphinx was in Eygpt.

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