What Does the Sphinx Symbolize?

The Great Sphinx of Egypt symbolizes the royalty of Egypt as links between the man and deity and simultaneously acts as a symbol of man’s dominance over nature. Some scholars also suggest that the Sphinx is a depiction of the solar god Atum. The sphinx’s majestic and imposing appearance serve as a form of warning to looters entering the Necropolis.

The Sphinx has an unique design: a human-animal hybrid that combines a lion’s body with a man’s head. Ancient Egyptians considered such mixed Egyptians to signify the divine. Depictions of the gods often evoked animal images. Thus, the Sphinx represents a composite of the mortal and the immortal. By placing the head of the pharaoh on the lion’s body, the Egyptians were expressing the notion that their ruler was more than a man. The pharaoh was descended from deity and served as the bridge between two worlds.

This way of thought had its roots in man’s social evolution. In the primitive days of humanity, men lived in fear and awe of wild animals, which seemed superior by virtue of their strength, speed and ferociousness. However, as man’s collective intelligence increased, so did his ability to tame nature, and this bolstered his confidence. The placement of the pharaoh’s head on the animal body represents humanity’s dominion of nature and chaos.