In Greek mythology sphinxes are always female. Are there any text about sphinxes that explain how they breed or how they're born? Or are there male Sphinx?

  • 4
    You used both "sphinxes" and "Sphinx" as plurals in this question. I thought you might be interested in knowing, another plural form of this word is "sphinges" (SFINN-jeez). But you will rarely have occasion to use it, as explained by the answer below – Muthos Jan 29 '16 at 17:12

There was only a single Sphinx in Greek mythology.

According to Hesiod in his Theogony, she was a daughter of Orthrus and the Chimera.

But she [Khimaira] also, in love with Orthos, mothered the deadly Sphinx, the bane of the Kadmeians. - Theogony 326

According to Lasus of Hermione, she was a daughter of Echidna and Typhon.

The Sphinx was daughter of Ekhidna and Typhon. - Lasus, Fragment 706A

Both of these use the singular Sphinx, not multiple Sphinxes

In all references she is referred to as 'The' not 'A' indicating a unique creature.

"Oidipos killed not only the Sphinx but also the Teumessian fox" - Corrina Fragment 672

"The Sphinx, the watch-dog that presideth over evil days" - Aeschylus, Fragment 129 Sphinx

"For whom have the gods and divinities that share their altar and the thronging assembly of men ever admired so much as they honored Oidipous then, when he removed that deadly, man-seizing plague (kêr) [the Sphinx] from our land." - Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 773

Therefore Yes she was always unigender and No there were no male Sphinxes

  • I trust you realise that in your last quotation "[the Sphinx]" is added by the translator. – fdb Jan 31 '16 at 21:11
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    @fdb yes that is the general usage of the square brackets in quotes – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 31 '16 at 21:14
  • So it is not really evidence for your thesis, is it? – fdb Jan 31 '16 at 21:28
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    @fdb it is in as much as all references including modern translations refer to the Sphinx in the singular. And technically in this case it's not a translation but clarification as to what is being spoken about as kêr is the Greek personification of death. – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 31 '16 at 22:45
  • There is an argument for distinguishing between primary and secondary sources. – fdb Jan 31 '16 at 23:03

A male sphinx is called ἀνδρόσφιγξ "Androsphinx" (Herodotus 2.175).

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    This is in relation to a Egyptian Sphinx, as seen alongside the pyramids of Giza, and refers to a sphinx with a male head. This question specifically asked about the Greek Sphinx, which may have roots in Egypt is a different beast to its Egyptian counterpart. – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 31 '16 at 19:34
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    @CearonO'Flynn. Yes, Herodotus is writing about Egypt in this context. But he does use the Greek word σφιγξ. From Herodotus' point of view a sphinx is a sphinx. – fdb Feb 1 '16 at 10:09

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