Sphinx About It

Wooden cane in a New York City street trash can.

NYC is full of Greek mythology, you just have to look for it.

You could visit the Met’s Sphinx of Hatshepsut, named after the female Egyptian pharaoh (1473–58 BCE), who gained museum-immortality through the sculpted body of a lion with human head donned in a striped nemes-headcloth—originally painted blue and yellow to resemble a protective cobra—and false beard. She’d fit in well in Hell’s Kitchen.

Or you could witness stories of Greek mythology in our everyday architecture, Greek cultural centers, and yes—our trash.

The technology of the cane has not changed much since the days of Greek Mythology in the 8th Century BCE. But the human drama remains. Like when the Riddle of the Sphinx plays out on a wintry street corner on 10th Avenue.

WorldBook.com explains:

“In the story of Oedipus, the goddess Hera sent the Sphinx to plague the people of the ancient city of Thebes. This was punishment for an ancient crime, possibly the failure to atone for the crimes of a former king of Thebes. The Sphinx sat perched on a mountain cliff nearby the ancient city. The creature guarded Thebes with a riddle that she had learned from the Muses. Each time a traveler failed to solve her riddle, she devoured them, effectively preventing anyone from leaving or entering the city. The riddle? ‘What has four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening?’

After many people guessed incorrectly and were killed, the king of Thebes announced that he would give the kingdom to anyone who could solve the riddle. The road past Mount Phicion, where the Sphinx awaited her victims, was strewn with the bones of people who had failed to find the right answer. Eventually, Oedipus, fleeing Corinth, solved the riddle. He answered, ‘Man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two legs, and finally needs a cane in old age.’ Upon hearing the correct answer, the Sphinx jumped from the cliff to her death. The plague of Thebes was lifted.”

We all get old. The Ancient Greeks. And modern-day New Yorkers.

Enjoy your life.

Your cane will come soon enough.

[More NYC Trash Stories: Bedroom, ClothesCultureFurnitureFood/DrinksPersonalPetsTechTrash CansTravel.]