Sphinx made horrible ravages in the neighborhood of
Thebes, till Creon, then king of that city, published an
edict over all Greece, promising that if any one should
explain the riddle of Sphinx, he would give him his own
sister Iocasta in marriage.
The riddle was this, “What animal is that which goes upon
four feet in the morning, upon two at noon, and upon three
at night?” Many had endeavored to explain this riddle, but
failing in the attempt, were destroyed by the monster; till
Oedipus undertook the solution, and thus explained it:
“The animal is man, who in his infancy creeps, and so may be
said to go on four feet; when he gets into the noon of life,
he walks on two feet; but when he grows old, or declines
into the evening of his days, he uses the support of a
staff, and thus may be said to walk on three feet.” The
Sphinx being enraged at this explanation, cast herself
headlong from a rock and died.
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