What the Egyptians signified by the symbolical figure, seems not to be exactly deeided. I think it was the type of womanhood, in which power is engrafted on beauty and gentleness. This they represented by a woman's face, neck, and bosom, terminating in the body of a lioness, not in fierce or violent action, but in eternal repose. This is the nature of the passive principle, which receives within itself' the germs of life, and quickens and brings them to perfection without any external manifestation of energy. Possibly, also, the Egyptians meant to insinuate that though the temale sex is placed as our companion upon earth, it is never understood by us, but will remain, like the sphinx, an enigma to the day of doom. However this may be, I take it for granted that the approximation of,sphinx and pyramids w!Ul not altogether accidental. The stranger and traveller who approach might learn from the mystic figure baneath the rocks, that around him was all symbol and allegory, and that if he could not read the riddle of its existence, he could scarcely expect to interpret the most abstruse of all symbols on the sacred mount. In all ages there has been an esoteric philosophy, a doctrine and language confined to the” few, and even now, they, who as travellers journey over the surface of the earth, must veil a portion of their discoveries behind an obscure terminology. Wben per- feet, the sphinx, in all likelihood, formed the crown ot Egyptian art. There is something inexpressibly majestic in the dusky head, suggesting the idea of a buried goddess, emerging from beneath the* sands; and it we contemplate the outli ne of the features, and restore what centuries have mutilated and marred, we shall probably have a perfect type of the beautiful as it existed in the mind of the Egyptians.—(J. A. St. John.
This article was originally published with the title "The Sphinx" in Scientific American 8, 15, 115 (December 1852)