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date: 08 December 2022



  • A. Schachter


Sphinx, a hybrid creature, like the *Chimaera and the griffin. Illustrations can be traced back to Egypt and Mesopotamia in the mid-3rd millenium bce (impossible to accord priority, although the Egyptian version is known to be a late-comer to local iconography). Basically the Sphinx possessed the body of an animal (usually a lion) and a human head (male or female). Variations include wings (common) and horns.The Egyptian and Mesopotamian sphinx is depicted in religious and/or heraldic contexts, from the monumental (i.e. the Sphinx at Giza) to the minute. The Egyptian is held to embody the king as *Horus supplicating the sun god Re. Both are sometimes shown slaying humans, presumably enemies of the king (the foregoing based on Demisch).Sphinxes appear in Minoan and Mycenaean art (see minoan and mycenaean civilization), in *Crete and the mainland, the ultimate inspiration probably Egypt (Immerwahr, 35). The sphinx later becomes a popular figure in Greek art—monumental and funerary—of the archaic and later periods (Donadoni; Vermeule, 171–5).


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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