Adapted from Greek Mythology. Illustrations by Juan Carlos Tejada and Kevin Hiram Tejada+
When Edi reached the city’s gate
all was quiet and sedate.
So Edi called with his voice out loud
“HEY MONSTER, WHEREVER YOU ARE, COME OUT!”
Suddenly there was loud flapping of wings
And a large, dark shadow loomed over him.
The winged creature was large and furry
With the body of lion
And the head of a lady.
“I… I did!” Edi gasped.
“Another stranger, I see.”
The monster smiled.
“My name is Edi.” He replied.
“But what ARE you, lady?”
The monster gracefully turned with a wink.
“I’m not as terrible as you might think.
And around these parts, they call me the Sphinx!”
“I hope you’re not offended if I ask you this:
But why are you bothering the people o Thebes?”
“BOTHERING them?” said the Sphinx, shaking her mane.
“I’m only playing a game!
I ask a riddle.
They must correctly answer or they can neither leave the city nor enter.”
“A riddle?” Edi exclaimed.
“Why, that’s easy enough.
I’ll play your game, if you’re up to snuff.”
The Sphinx beamed and clapped her paws.
A man of courage!”
(Or a fool?)
“Listen now and answer carefully,
For what you say,
May spell danger for you
What creature is there
(Pray tell me true)
Who walks on four legs
In the morning,
At noon, on two.
And when the sun
Has set in the west,
Walks in the evening
With three legs?”
Thought hard and long.
There seemed more to the riddle
Than the lady let on.
It looked to him
That the lady Sphinx was planning something
Under her wings.
If Edi guessed the riddle right
He’d free the city from this fright.
So, praying to Zeus to make him bright,
He gave the lady this reply.
“At morn he crawls
As a baby would – on fours;
At noon, he stands on two
For he is grown;
And in the evening of his life
He uses a cane
To stand upright!”
“ANSWER THE RIDDLE IF YOU CAN!”
The monster screamed.
“WHAT CREATURE IS IT?”
And Edi grinned.
The Sphinx bowed her head and sighed.
“I knew someone some day would guess it right.”
And looking ashamed
With downcast eyes,
She spread her wings
And took to flight.
When the people of Thebes saw the monster gone,
There was much rejoicing all around.
They threw flowers at Edi’s feet
And showered him with many gifts.
And it is said
that after this,
from a cliff!
to quit shepherding.
He stayed in Thebes
And became its king.