The story of Sphinx in a new and strange translation
This story starts a while later after Oedipus left Corinth, after he killed the rude man in the chariot.
In the commonly told story of Oedipus, the Sphinx arrived shortly after brawl, and sat on some mountain pass in front of Thebes to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. Incidentally, there is a peasant family that arrived on the same day as the creature did. Upon seeing the Sphinx and hearing her warning, they decided to just settle outside the city boundaries. They were decent but cautious people, so they never tried to answer Sphinx’s riddle and even warned incoming travelers. Of course, the family made some profit selling them food and charging them for room and board if they decided to rest a while before heading back.
The family had a son around Oedipus’ age or younger. He was known by countryfolks around Thebes and family guests as Loukanikos, which means sausage, either because his family sells goatmeat or because he is almost asking to be eaten by the Sphinx. Loukanikos was arrogant just like Oedipus, but instead of picking fights with people on roads he spent most of his time wandering around the city spying on Sphinx. Since he is neither trying to get in nor trying to get out, Sphinx never harmed him. Although, some turned back travelers said the kid even gave joke answers or suggested new riddles to her.
Oedipus heard nothing about this admirer of the monster. When he arrived at the mountain pass, he asked the only human in sight about where the abomination plaguing Thebes is. Of course, that is no one else than Loukanikos, and he answered quite incensed:
”She would be enjoying the sunshine over there. I can show you there, but I’ll throw you down the hill first if you call her a plaguing abomination again!”
Oedipus almost drew his dagger, though he calmed down instead, assuming this other young man is worshipping the monster out of fear.
“The Sphinx is a monster that haunts your family and neighbors. Today you will see how it will fall, and Thebes will be free again.”
Loukanikos sniffed, and said:
“I might just see you get what you deserved over there. Monsters are never created for beauty and wisdom.”
When they walked into Sphinx by a cliff, she ignored Loukanikos altogether and dared Oedipus to pass.
“What is the being that walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?”
Odepus gave his famous reasoning:
“It is a man—who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age.”
Loukanikos burst into laughter and leaned to the ground.
Now, there was no reason for Sphinx to remain in Thebes or even to remain anymore. She felt deeply lost and disgusted, because the being she looks down the most is laughing at her defeat. Because Zeus did not give her any instructions on what to do after the riddle is solved, she have no authority to kill him. So this is the end, she thought, and then Loukanikos shouted:
“I’ve got a better answer, I swear to Zeus! It’s my best one, much funnier than his!”
Sphinx turned back and stood patiently, away from the cliff.
“It’s Zeus! Because he walks on four feet in the morning suffering hangover, walks upright only when he gets over it in the afternoon, and uses his middle leg in the evening!”
For the first time in her life, Sphinx felt humans can be an intelligent race. She laughed just like Loukanikos did at the new answer, and he walked close and put his arms around her shoulders.
“I reason that the monster should be exorcised by now, and you should be already eaten by it for your stupidity. None of it happened, so I’ll make things right.”
Loukanikos, being raised in a goat herding and farming family, was quick enough to realize Oedipus drawing his dagger and take action. Without much effort he seized the dagger by its handle and stabbed Oedipus’ ankles just as the servant of Laius who left him on the hill did.
While Oedipus is struggling down the hill ashamed, Zeus appeared. He smote Loukanikos for such blasphemous disrespect and turned him into a dog. Before he can punish Sphinx for her failure, Hera stopped him because the answer from Loukanikos was the best she had ever heard, too.
However, Zeus’ transforming curse on Loukanikos is too powerful for Hera to cancel, so she gave him immortality instead. He still wanders around the hills, countryside and cities of Greece today. If you do notice him, it also wouldn’t be hard to see a nice girl with cat-themed decorations feeding him or travelling with him.