Greek Attic Red Figure Squat Lekythos
The Lekythos, or oil flask, is decorated with painted sphinx with one paw up. The flask is fully intact with no repairs. According to the legend, the Sphinx was sent by the goddess Athena from Ethiopia to plague the city of Thebes. Anyone trying to enter the city was asked a riddle and if they could not answer correctly, were gobbled up. A man named Oedipus answered the riddle, and the Sphinx, her riddle solved, threw herself from a cliff. Oedipus went on to become king, and a complex family life. Greek Sphinx are depicted as lion bodies with women's torso, or at least a woman's head. Egyptian sphinx tend to be depicted as male figures. The classic era of red-figure pottery painting in Athens was 530 - 450 BC.