Imagine this: you are wandering in the desert when you come across these giant statues. They have the head of a human, the body of a lion, and they tower over everything for miles. You have just come across a sphinx.
The sphinx — in ancient egypt — was a spiritual guardian that was found near tombs and temples. Generally a male’s head, though sometimes a woman’s, the sphinx was often described as having the body of a lion and wings, wearing a pharaoh’s headdress. Besides the great sphinx of Giza, there is also a place called Sphinx Alley in Upper Egypt in which a two-mile avenue connecting the temples of Luxor and Karnak is lined with sphinx statues.
One of the most famous of the sphinxes comes to us from the Greek play Oedipus Rex, in which a sphinx terrorizes Thebes, demanding the answer to a riddle. The riddle, taught to her by the Muses, went: “What is it that has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” Whenever the riddle was answered incorrectly, the sphinx would devour the man until Oedipus had given her the proper answer. Once learning it, the sphinx killed herself, thus sprouting the legend that the sphinx was an all-knowing creature of wisdom.
The sphinx was a creature to protect, not a monster. However, the idea that one of them would devour you had you not answered her riddle correctly is a terrifying thought. What if you didn’t know the answer? Well, then I guess the sphinx would make you their dinner.
For more information about the sphinx (sources):