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Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 188

That ignorance must be banished

What monster is that?

It is the Sphinx.

Why does it have the bright face of a virgin, the feathers of a bird, and the limbs of a lion?

Ignorance of things has taken on this appearance: which is to say that the root cause of so much evil is threefold. Some men are made ignorant by levity of mind, some by seductive pleasure, and some by arrogance of spirit. But they who know the power of the Delphic message slit the relentless monster's terrible throat. For man himself is also a two-footed, three-footed, four-footed thing, and the first victory of the prudent man is to know what man is.