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The Nuttall Encyclopedia
A fabled animal, an invention of the ancient Egyptians, with the body and claws of a lioness, and the head of a woman, or of a ram, or of a goat, all types or representations of the king, effigies of which are frequently placed before temples on each side of the approach; the most famous of the sphinxes was the one which waylaid travellers and tormented them with a riddle, which if they could not answer she devoured them, but which Oedipus answered, whereupon she threw herself into the sea. "Such a sphinx," as we are told in "Past and Present," "is this life of ours, to all men and nations. Nature, like the Sphinx, is of womanly celestial loveliness and tenderness, the face and bosom of a goddess, but ending in the claws and the body of a lioness ... is a heavenly bride and conquest to the wise and brave, to them who can discern her behests and do them; a destroying fiend to them who cannot. Answer her riddle—Knowest thou the meaning of to-day?—it is well with thee. Answer it not; the solution for thee is a thing of teeth and claws."
Wood, James, ed. Entry for 'Sphinx'. The Nuttall Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/nut/s/sphinx.html. Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. London. 1900.