The goddess Hera commissioned the Sphinx, a monster with the head of a maiden and the body of a winged lion, to post itself on a hill near Thebes and chant the riddle of doom.

"What creature advances on four feet in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening?" Since every wrong answer cost a citizen's life,

Thebes was in desperate straits until the wandering Oedipus arrived to solve the enigma with the single word "man".

Whereat the Sphinx hurled itself down from its rock. The Thebans rewarded Oedipus with the vacant throne and the hand of Jocasta, his father's widow.

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