How about a birthday riddle for the enigmatic man of the hour?
What walks on four legs in the morning,
two legs at midday,
and three legs in the evening?
Does that riddle sound familiar? It probably does since it is the famous “Riddle of the Sphinx.” One can hardly refer to enigmas and riddles without including the Sphinx.
I’m talking about the famous Greek version of the Sphinx (Σφίγξ). She (all the best monsters were female) had a human head, the haunches of a lion and was often depicted with the wings of a bird.
Pictured above with the famous Oedipus, she doesn’t look terribly dangerous, but looks can be deceiving. As usual, there are several etymological stories relating to the Sphinx, but the common element is that she was a sort of curse on the city state of Thebes for some ancient transgression. Stationed outside the city, she asked her riddle of all who passed her and devoured them all when they failed to answer correctly. The situation had become so dire that the regent of Thebes…one Creon (of Antigone fame) promised the throne of Thebes to anyone who could answer the mysterious riddle.
Along came Oedipus (this is after he killed King Laius – who he didn’t know was his birth father – and before he married Jocasta – who he didn’t know was his birth mother…you can’t make this stuff up!) who took up the challenge and correctly answered the Sphinx’s riddle…when he did, she was so distraught that she flung herself off the mountainside. Enigma of the Sphinx solved.
Now, I would never venture to argue that Richard Armitage devours those who misread his cues, but he has often been plenty enigmatic since joining the Twitterverse. So then, in honor of the Sphinxine Birthday…let’s answer that riddle
Four legs in the morning:
Two legs at midday:
Three legs in the evening: