By Willis Goth Regier
Sought, the Sphinx turns out in all places, even if the parent of the pyramids on Egypt's Giza plateau or the attractive man-eater with a dangerous riddle, to be approached with lousy warning. The Sphinx, that icon painted, sculpted, engraved, and exalted in poetry, fiction, and tune, so inspired the thinker Hegel that he mentioned the creature “the image of the symbolic itself.” With a wealth of illustrations, booklet of the Sphinx confirms Hegel's lofty judgment, discovering the Sphinx all over the place: in tragedies, work, opera, homicide mysteries, brothels, bars, and advertisements. Pursuing the Sphinx via kaleidoscopic sightings and encyclopedic observations, Willis Goth Regier plumbs the symbol's mysteries, carrying out the reader down ever extra confusing and fascinating paths. splendidly readable, his hugely idiosyncratic journey of the a while and the humanities leads eventually to a notion of the Sphinx that embraces not anything lower than all that's unknowable—proving once more that confronting a Sphinx is likely one of the most deadly and exhilarating adventures of the mind's eye.
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7 Most Egyptologists concur that the Sphinx was carved in honor of Pharaoh Kafre (or Chephren) in Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty (2613–2494 bc). Excavations south of the Sphinx revealed that it once was surrounded by an active community of oﬃcials, bakers, caretakers, and builders, and had a nearby temple built of granite and alabaster, rich and tempting materials stripped for buildings and pavements. Four colossal Sphinxes, each more than 28 feet long, guarded another temple nearby. In time they, too, were taken away.
Philo wrote, ‘‘the God of real being is apprehensible by no one . . ’’ Yet all around Alexandria were the statues of pharaohs and caesars with inscriptions that said they were gods. It was a religious city with ferocious religions. 8 Saint Jerome, the patron of scholars, praised Clement of Alexandria (circa 153–circa 220 ad) as the most learned of the early Christians. ’’ 9 Faith is possible for anyone but understanding requires study. Clement drew heavily from Greek and Roman sources and respected the priority of the Egyptians, 46 Confrontations Chaldeans, and Hebrews.
He complained, ‘‘The boring-rods were broken owing to the carelessness of Arabs, at a depth of twenty-seven feet in the back of the Sphinx. ’’ 17 In 1843 Richard Lepsius once more cleared sand down to the stele between its paws, and the sand once more rolled back. Thereafter came photography and a more exact record. In 1849 Maxime Du Camp, Flaubert’s companion in Egypt, took the ﬁrst photographs of the Sphinx. 18 Photos did not inhibit illustrators. Menzel’s 1857 survey of world monuments included an astigmatic Horemakhet staring where his nose had been.