The Riddle (αἴνιγμα) of Sphinx


“For Hera sent the Sphinx, whose mother was Echidna and her father Typhon; and she had the face of a woman (γυνή), the breast and feet and tail of a lion (λέων), and the wings of a bird (ὄρνις).

And having learned a riddle from the Muses, she sat on Mount Phicium, and propounded it to the Thebans.

And the riddle (αἴνιγμα) was this:

What is that which has one voice (Φωνή) and yet becomes four-footed (Τετράπους) and two-footed (Δίπους) and three-footed (Τρίπους) ?”



“What questions this will to truth (Wille zur Wahrheit) has already set before us! What strange, wicked, questionable questions! Who really is it that here questions us? What really is it in us that wants ”the truth”? That is already a long history – and yet it seems to have hardly begun? Is it any wonder if we finally become suspicious, lose patience, turn impatiently away?” 


lou-salome-01“That we ourselves are also learning from this Sphinx to pose questions? Who is it really that questions us here? The problem of the value of truth steps up before us—or are we the ones who step up before the problem? Who among us here is Oedipus? Who is the Sphinx? It seems to be a tryst between questions and question marks.”