The Riddles of the Sphinx

The Great Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
OK, so it's an old picture (~4500 yrs.) But you get the idea.

Welcome to my lair, brave mortal. Here you will find some invigorating little mind games. I remember the old days when, if you couldn't answer my riddles, I could kill you. I'm not too nostalgic, though: I got a lot fewer challenges back then. Ever since I softened a little, a couple of thousand years ago, people have been flocking to have a cup of steamed espresso with the famed Sphinx, and answer a few of my enigmas. You might ask, "Sphinx, what brought this change about?" Perhaps, if you've read your mythology, you remember this:
When I am young, I go on four legs, then I go on two legs, then I go on three legs, and then I die.
That wasn't a bad riddle, was it? But I embarrassed myself on that one. Ever since then, I've been a little more humble.

In my time, I've seen some interesting people come and go through my den. Napoleon once fumbled on a perfectly simple riddle, My empire extends far and wide, I wash my comb in the tide. Whilst I crow, the sun doth rise, And in my breast, all Europe lies. The answer, of course, was the French cock, representing his whole empire. Not much of a riddler, that Napoleon. But he had his surprises... "Able was I, ere I saw Elba." That was brilliant! And then there was Maria Theresa, the only mortal I know who swapped recipes fit for the ages. Ah... memories!

I mentioned the leg riddle (In case you didn't know, the answer is a human being... the third leg is a cane in old age.) There have been many other famous riddles through the years; like the Mad Hatter's "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" and Bilbo Baggins' unanswerable "What is in my pocket?" (The little cheat.) And then there are innumerable paradoxes, proposed by mathematicians, philosophers, and plain wags. And, of course, there's the old bugaboos like squaring the circle and taking the chicken, fox, and feed across the river. But I, the Sphinx, am still the world's oldest riddler. My chestnuts have been puzzling timorous mortals for thousands of years, and I'm rather proud of this distinction. Here you can find some little mysteries to ponder. If you cannot guess them, I shall elucidate - all of the answers are posted here as well. (Except for the Challenge questions... but those have answers too: see if you can find them.) There's just one thing - the downside of this medium is that I cannot proffer you any steamed espresso; you'll have to make that yourself.

Try yourself in the Sphinx's gauntlet...
Here's the Sphinx's stock of original riddles and puzzles.

Classical riddles.These state something ordinary in such a way as to make it seem mysterious. See if you can guess what the Sphinx really means...
Number puzzles.These are the games that numbers play.
Word games.Ah, the rich dance of lingual patterns! The ecstacy of alphabetic recombination! (Excuse me; it's just that I've been using hieroglyphics so long. The phonetic alphabet is such a delightfully rich source of riddles for me. What a wonderful invention!)
Challenge questions.To acheive the pinnacle and paragon of puzzledom, attain the loftiest heights in the realm, and emblazon your name in the Sphinx's Hall of Fame, you have to answer these Challenge Questions. A word of warning: they're very tough!

More Sphinx stuff
Stuff to peruse when finished with the puzzles.

Sphinx Solitaire.Play Klondike solitaire on-line. Written by Chris Street, the Sphinx's dictationist (try typing with huge lion's paws one of these days!) Your browser must be Java-compatible to play. Never say the Sphinx doesn't bring you the best in high-tech bemusement.
Sphinx Linx.This page (whose title sounds vaguely like a Variety headline) chronicles some of my wanderings about the Internet.
The Hall of Fame.A tribute to all those who have braved into my lair and answered my challenges. These adventrous souls had to courage to spit in the Sphinx's eye, as it were.

What's that? You want to mail me? All right; we immortals have much time to frivel. Send mail to If I don't know the answer to your question, I can ask the Satyrs for you.