Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

While there are some similarities between the ancient Egyptian Sphinx and the Greek Sphinx, there are also vast differences as well. For example, the Greek Sphinx had the head and breast of a woman with the body of a lion while the ancient Egyptian Sphinx had the body of a lion but the head of a man. Both are shrouded in the mythology of their respective cultures, but oddly, Egypt’s Sphinx is more widely renowned than those within other cultures.

An Inspiration in the Late Baroque Period

The one thing you can say of the Sphinx of Greece is that you can’t study mythology without finding references throughout of the Sphinx. She was even a huge inspiration to artists within the Late Baroque style of art throughout the years between 1715 and 1723. As one of the most popular Ancient Greek artifacts found on, you can also see how other ancient works of art had a huge impact on the 18th Century. As the story goes, the female monster also had the wings of an eagle and some believe her tail was that of a snake. Even so, her story is one which struck fear into any child who heard the tale.

How the Sphinx Figured into Greek Mythology

According to legend, the Sphinx was a punishment on Thebes, a town in ancient Greece, which is said to have committed some criminal act. It was her duty to eat children or any young person who couldn’t solve her riddle. As history goes, King Kreon, ruler of Thebes, offered his throne to any man, woman, or child who could kill the monster. Mythology has it that Oedipus met the challenge head-on and was the first to solve the riddle. In a moment of despair, the monstrous Sphinx threw herself over a mountain and that ended her terror.

From Antiquities through the Renaissance

The Greek Sphinx played a large part in the art from ancient times through the Renaissance and while we still see images and sculptures in modern times, they enjoyed a prominent place in the 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, famed artists and sculptors of the time carried sphinxes throughout their interior decorations of some of the palaces of the time. Many were also used as fountains in palace gardens in the 18th century, especially in France.  While the first appearance of this mythological Greek beast appeared in the late 15th century School of Fontainebleau, she gained prominence much later, as is indicated by historic pieces of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Summing up what we know about the Greek Sphinx, Greece saw the Sphinx as a half lion, half woman while the Egyptians viewed the beast as the male counterpart. For centuries, the Greek Sphinx impacted all forms of art from paintings to statues to tapestries. The 1700s was the period best known for being influenced by the Greek Sphinx and many of those works of art are housed in great museums throughout Europe. While legend has it that Oedipus solved the riddle and the beast was then destroyed, children today still cringe at the tale.