Za(a)r -- evil spirit
60 min. radio drama -- 3 stages between conception and birth (Woman) & 3 Ages of Man (Old MA)
BOY -- between two worlds
teatr.vtheatre.net 2010 ?
Teatr LUL Academe [AA Ethiopia]
Stage Reading | Workshop -- when?
* Publish in sellassie.info
Part of Trinity Project.
Guardian of the Horizon, The Sphinx of Giza
Dionysis -- Biomechanics
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Method for Directors?
ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
* The name 'sphinx' which means 'strangler' was first given by the Greeks to a fabulous creature which had the head of a woman and the body of a lion and the wings of a bird. The sphinx appears to have started in Egypt in the form of a sun god. The Egyptian sphinx is usually a head of a king wearing his headdress and the body of a lion.
SummaryShe has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and horribly, the face and breast of a woman. She is treacherous and merciless: those who cannot answer her riddle suffer a fate typical in such mythological stories: they are gobbled up whole and raw, eaten by this ravenous monster. What greater threat is there to a humanity desperate to leave its mark upon history than to be completely consumed and obliterated? Odysseus fights his man-eater (several, actually) and Heracles has his Cacus - mythic heroes often defeat anthropophagy to ensure human and cultural survival (this is typical of mythic heroes in general: many Japanese heroic tales depict heroes defeating man-eating monsters, and even the dragon that St. George kills is so threatening because it is a man-eater).
Originally in Egyptian mythology, the sphinx was depicted as having the body of a lion, wings and a human face. It is invariably male and is a benevolent creature. It is seen as the embodiment of royalty. There are three types of sphinx. The androsphinx, which is the typical lion with a human face/head. There is the criosphinx which is a ram-headed lion. Finally, there is the hierocosphonx which has the body of a lion and the head of a hawk. In Greek myth the sphinx is female and a malevolent being. It usually represents a form of divine punishment. The name sphinx comes from the Greek sphiggein, meaning to draw tight. Hence, the Greek sphinx is envisioned as a strangler. She would sit on the top of a rock and stop all travelers that came in that direction, challenging them with a riddle. According to Apollodorus, the sphinx is a daughter of Echinda and Typhon. He also said that the riddle for which the sphinx was famous for asking was taught to it by the muses. This riddle,
What animal is that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?
Had to be answered by the traveler to pass the sphinx. If the traveler did not answer correctly, he was eaten by the sphinx. However, Oedipus solved her riddle. When asked the riddle, he answered man, as a child crawls upon its hands and knees in childhood, walks upright as an adult, and walks aided with a cane in old age. Upon hearing the correct answer, the Sphinx, so mortified at the fact that someone had answered correctly, threw herself onto the rocks below, killing herself.
It is said that the human head on a sphinx represents intelligence and wisdom.
QuestionsThis is what Oedipus saves the people of Thebes from when he kills the sphinx, certainly a threat in the mythic sense. Oedipus crows about his ability to save Thebes. He proves Protagoras' maxim that "man is the measure of all things." Indeed, "Man" is the answer to the Sphinx's riddle! But not just any man - Oedipus solves the riddle, Oedipus ends the sphinx's reign of terror over the people of Thebes, Oedipus brings a new era of harmony to the city of Thebes by besting this mythic and metaphorical threat to human culture and society. [ * ]
But ironically (and necessarily), this man who overcomes the great threat to human culture posed by the sphinx is the same man responsible for causing an even more serious pollution and rending of the social fabric: this same man commits the cardinal sins of patricide/regicide and incest - the one is disallowed by ancient and modern law because of its threat to society (see Aeschylus' Oresteia), the other is a mythic taboo first - mythic heroes are supposed to eradicate such threats, not cause them (I am reminded of Claude Levi-Strauss' conclusion that cannibalism and incest are two sides of the same coin, being the most exaggerated forms of sex and eating).
NotesSo the fact that in OT Oedipus begins with a rep for killing a man-eater and ends with the discovery that he has committed incest (mythically equivalent crimes) is the key, I think. Both the response and the responder to the riddle of the Sphinx is Man and Man turns out to be both the preserver and the polluter of the society. Perhaps this is Sophocles' message to his fifth century audience after all - that man has the power to both preserve and destroy. In order to make the right decision, he must go about his business with both eyes open.
[ She had learned a riddle from the MUSES, which she chanted in inharmonious songs, and sitting on Mount Phicium, propounded it to any Theban willing to take the risk of solving it. As she declared that she would not depart unless anyone interpreted her riddle, Creon, in accordance with an oracle, issued a proclamation promising that he would give the kingdom of Thebes and his sister Jocasta in marriage to the person solving the riddle of the Sphinx... When many had already perished, Oedipus, having heard the proclamation, came to Thebes, and meeting the Sphinx, gave the right answer, declaring that the riddle referred to man; for as a little child he is four-footed, as an adult two-footed, and as an old man he uses a staff as a third limb... The Sphinx kept her promise, for on hearing the solution to her riddle, she threw herself from the citadel and died. ]
... Some are not satisfied with this account, which they find to be a product of wild imagination. For who has seen sphinxes ravishing citizens and eating them raw, destroying fields, and chanting childish riddles on the top of a mountain or from a citadel? So, believing the Sphinx can be easily explained, they, much like Oedipus, answer this riddle by making up their own mature stories, which they find so perfectly rational, that even a child could inmediately grasp it.
So for example, some have affirmed that the Sphinx came with a fleet on a piratical expedition, and having put in at Anthedon, she seized a mountain, and used it for plundering raids.
Others assert that the Sphinx was just a woman. According to them, she was the lovely daughter of King Laius. He was so fond of her that he told her the secret oracle—only known to kings — that Delphi had delivered to Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. Laius had many sons by concubines, they say, but the oracle applied only to Jocasta and her sons. So when any of her brothers came in order to claim the throne, she would say that if they really were sons of Laius, they should be acquainted with the oracle. So they were asked, and when they could not answer she put them to death as potential usurpers on the ground that they had no valid claim to the kingdom, or to relationship. Oedipus, they affirm, was able to give the right answer because he had been told the oracle in a dream.
[ The Mythic Hero, an illustrated lecture by Dr. Janice Siegel ]
"American Sphinx": The Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson [!?] and today?
* Hesiod (circa 800 B.C.) claimed that the Sphinx was the offspring of Echidna, mother of many Greek monsters.
The Zodiac, Cherubim & The Sphinx: Sphinx were often placed at entrances to palaces or temples of antiquity. This positioning implied power, authority and protection. The bodily form of the sphinx combines two to four animals, a lion, bull or eagle with the head of a human.
THE SPHINX by Edgar Allan Poe * 1850
DURING the dread reign of the Cholera in New York, I had accepted the invitation of a relative to spend a fortnight with him in the retirement of his cottage ornee on the banks of the Hudson...
Sphinx appeared ONLY after king Laios' death! [ * ]
Claude Levi-Strauss: cannibalism and incest are two sides of the same coin, being the most exaggerated forms of sex and eating.
When we discuss OT (Oedipus Tyrannus, also known as Oedipus Rex), we often focus on the contemporary political crisis in Athens, the plague that has beset the people, the loss of religious focus that some fear has brought the wrath of the gods upon them - all the ways that we think the play might have affected the contemporary audience.Sphinxes of all shapes and sizes continued to be produced. Little sphinxes were buried with people, helpful guardians and guides to the next world. Some sprouted wings, and the first female sphinx appeared about 1900 BC. There is a most beautiful one representing Queen Hatshepsut (around 1500 BC). In c.1400 Tuthmosis IV restored the Great Sphinx , and added the stele referred to above, and also built a new temple for him. A little earlier Amenophis III - making overseas contacts - "exported" the idea of the sphinx to Mesopotamia (where they always have wings, and inspired the Cherubim), and to the Greek World. The sphinx, along with the similar griffin - also of Egyptian origin - is found at Cnossos, and in Cyprus already they are winged, and sitting upon their haunches with front legs vertical like a cat, wings curving upwards.
... The sphinx, like many of the other fantastic hybrid creatures, stands as a pre-eminent threat to Greek society and human culture. As a liminal (threshhold) creature, neither one thing nor the other (as a centaur is neither horse nor man, an Amazon neither woman nor warrior, a Siren neither woman nor bird), it threatens our conception of what belongs and what doesn't, of what can be understood and what cannot, of what can be controlled and what cannot. http://lilt.ilstu.edu/drjclassics/texts/Oedipus/sphinx.shtm The Great Sphinx was a carving with, as far as is known, no precedent. Later sphinxes tended to come in pairs, and were usually guardians of ways to significant places. Surely the first sphinx had this role:what could be more important than guarding the way to the three pyramids? On a stele between the paws (1000 years later than the sphinx itself) is an inscription which names him as "Kheperi - Re - Atum". These are the three names given by the Egyptians to the sun: in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. (It's not surpising that a country so exposed to the sun should have three gods for his three very different aspects.)
Many Egyptian divinities had animal attributes - the Greeks found this amusing and primitive. But for the Egyptians the animal represented something eternal and unchanging. Animals always look the same from generation to generation, and seem to repeat the simple routines of their lives for eternity. [I'm reminded of this looking at the famous Egyptian painting of geese from the tomb of Ne-fer-maat at Medum. Dating from 2600 BC, they are even older than the sphinx: there are white-fronted, bean and rare red-breasted geese exactly as I've seen them in Norfolk, exactly as illustrated in any modern bird book.]
So the lion is the divine, immortal part (standing for the god Atum, the primal solar god of Heliopolis, the creator). The lion is commonly associated in Egypt with places of entry and exit - even such humble items as doorbolts and water-spouts, a motif which also spread to Greece. Atum's animal is the lion, but he, like the sphinx, has a human face always. But the Great Sphinx's face is not his, it is the face of Khafre, the mortal king (or maybe of Menkaure, his successor).
The sphinx also had an element of Horus, the falcon-headed god of the kings: as is clear from contemporary heads of Khafre, Horus perched behind the king's head, spreading his wings protectively. This of course has eroded completely from the existing sphinx - but may explain how the idea of a winged sphinx arose, from a misunderstanding of the presence of Horus. Pliny says the locals regarded it as a tomb of their king Harmais, which would seem to confirm the Horus connection. The type of beard shows that the sphinx was also a god in his own right. He is the god Atum with the individual head of his creator Khafre.
The derivation of the name "sphinx" is unknown (it is not Greek, or Indo-European at all, although it first appears in Greek in the 5th century BC), and we don't know what the Egyptians called him. But a widely accepted theory is that he was called shesepankh, which means "living image". The Greek word would then be derived from an attempt at pronouncing this! (see below). The sphinx would be the living image of the (eternal) god, and the (mortal) king simultaneously.
Sphinx was a guardian (who could destroy, presumably, as well as protect). But Egyptian sphinxes were benevolent, while the Theban ate people!
Could the three-fold god Kheperi-Re-Atum somehow be connected with the later riddle? Both refer to morning , noon, and evening - but Lowell Edmunds 3 has collected large numbers of the same riddle from all over the world - it has been descibed as the sort of riddle "that might have come from a Christmas cracker" 4. It would seem that if you wanted a riddle, this was the brand leader!
In a dim corner of my room for longer than my fancy thinks
A beautiful and silent Sphinx has watched me through the shifting gloom.
Inviolate and immobile she does not rise she does not stir
For silver moons are naught to her and naught to her the suns that reel.
Red follows grey across the air the waves of moonlight ebb and flow
But with the dawn she does not go and in the night-time she is there.
Dawn follows dawn and nights grow old and all the while this curious cat
Lies couching on the Chinese mat with eyes of satin rimmed with gold.
Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the tawny throat of her
Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her pointed ears.
Come forth my lovely seneschal ! so somnolent, so statuesque !
Come forth you exquisite grotesque ! half woman and half animal !
Come forth my lovely languorous Sphinx ! and put your head upon my knee !
And let me stroke your throat and see your body spotted like the lynx !
And let me touch those curving claws of yellow ivory and grasp
The tail that like a monstrous asp coils round your heavy velvet paws !
A thousand weary centuries are thine while I have hardly seen
Some twenty summers cast their green for Autumn's gaudy liveries.
But you can read the hieroglyphs on the great sandstone obelisks,
And you have talked with basilisks, and you have looked on hippogriffs.
O tell me, were you standing by when Isis to Osiris knelt ?
And did you watch the Egyptian melt her union for Antony
And drink the jewel-drunken wine and bend her head in mimic awe
To see the huge proconsul draw the salted tunny from the brine ?
And did you mark the Cyprian kiss white Adon on his catafalque ?
And did you follow Amenalk, the god of Heliopolis ?
And did you talk with Thoth, and did you hear the moon-horned Io weep ?
And know the painted kings who sleep beneath the wedge-shaped pyramid ?
Whose pallid burden, sick with pain, watches the world with wearied eyes,
And weeps for every soul that dies, and weeps for every soul in vain.
©2004 filmplus.org *
In ancient Egypt, where the idea originated, the head was usually a portrait of the reigning pharaoh. It also represented the sky-god Horus. The Egyptians always pictured their kings as calm and stately, with wide-open, staring eyes. The lion's body — symbolizing courage — is crouched with its front feet outstretched.
In order to face the threat, Creon 2 made a proclamation throughout Hellas, promising that he would give the kingdom of Thebes along with his sister Jocasta in marriage to the person solving the riddle of the Sphinx. It was not difficult to find candidates; for when it comes to acquiring power, property, and women, there are always many disposed to go through no matter which risks and atrocities. Accordingly, many came and many were destroyed by the Sphinx, who gobbled them up one after the other.
After many men had perished, Oedipus heard the proclamation and came to Thebes, declaring that he had solved the riddle. So he went up, and meeting the Sphinx, he asserted that the riddle referred to man because as a little child he is four-footed, going on his arms and legs, as an adult he is two-footed, and as an old man he gets a third limb in a staff. This Oedipus knew only too well, who had his own feet mutilated, and already used a staff; but on hearing the solution, the Sphinx kept her promise and destroyed herself by throwing herself down from the citadel.
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