by Kaelin Miller
No one may have known it, but there’s a tale behind the ancient statue of the Great Sphinx. I will tell you this age-old story of this age-old creature. It was in the beginning of 2000 BC, in Mesopotamia….
Here, we see a strange creature in a city somewhere in Mesopotamia: a woman with the body of a lion sitting by a merchant’s stand. This creature is a Sphinx named Haremakhet; a peculiar, yet gentle being who tries to fit in. “Excuse me, my good man, I see you’re selling some catnip. May I buy some?”“This is not catnip, you crazy hybrid beast” the merchant scoffed. “This is a rare herb from Nubia, and this valued good is too precious for a hideous, grotesque beast. Now, go away.”
Haremakhet was insulted, with anger, she responded to the merchant “You know, that really hurt my feelings. It’s not my fault I look like a monster!” The merchant took out his crossbow, and shooed Haremakhet away.
They began to bicker. They barked at one another like angry dogs, insulting each other’s mothers, and throwing wisecracks.
Meanwhile, the king, responding to several complaints of public disturbance, approaches the merchant’s stand, in chariot.
“What is the meaning of all this ruckus? I want to know the who, what, when, where, and why of this disruption of harmony!”
Haremakhet replied “This guy is refusing service to me just because I am different, and he insulted me. Please execute this ignorant jerk.”
“Oh, no,” The merchant snapped. “She is obviously a monster. Look at her body! She’s a lion with a human head.”
“Well you are not so gorgeous either. Also, this is my excessive, thick body hair….so I’m not a lion with a human head.”
“We are not gullible,” said the king. “Seize the monster!”
An angry mob with torches and spears chased Haremakhet. They tried to kill her, but she escaped in a lick of time; they threw spears in her direction, but she dodged them.Haremakhet, as she was leaving the city, shouted “You know what? You all are terrible people and I hope you will suffer eternally, or be cursed by some crazy witch with mental problems! Oh, and your clothes are so last season!” Haremakhet strided with confidence.
”I’m going to find a better place to dwell, you all are too foolish for me!”
She traveled to Babylon, but they drove her out. She traveled to Nubia, but they, too, drove her out. Everywhere she would go, she would be seen as a monster. She soon became discouraged. “I may be a monster,” Haremakhet proclaimed sadly. “but I want them to see me as an individual, not a fearsome beast. I’ll just venture through that desert. Maybe if I disappear, I’ll never bother anyone again.”
She trudged through the desert. The heat was intense enough to fry a dormant boar. Seriously, It’s that hot. Haremakhet endured extreme conditions and hazards: sand storms, heat waves, and scorpions. During sundown and before sunrise, she ventured on foot. During the day, when the sun is out and beaming, she lied in the sand under trees, if they were nearby. She journeyed for 40 days and a half.
Haremakhet’s harsh adventure ended when she arrived at an oasis. There, she found the one vital element for survival: water! “Finally! I’ve died of thirst like, 13 times.” She hurries to the pool of water and jumps in. SPLASH!!! Haremakhet swam and drank in the cool palm-shaded water. The refreshment of her body has refreshed her. She glanced at the healthy palm trees. Their leaves are healthy and fully vitalized, nurtured by the sun’s loving beams. Haremakhet marveled at the trees and the water’s cleanliness until something catches her eye.
There is a wall, sandy, yet smoother than a cobblestone house. At the entrance, there are two guards dressed in luscious colors and pure bronze banded loin cloths. Their sandals are bronze, matching the spear crafted out of many precious metals. The guards are wearing head dresses and neck collars similar to that of a Pharaoh’s.
Haremakhet was daunted by the guards’ exotic attire. How am I going to get in past those guards? She wondered I know that they will not tolerate having human/lion hybrids wandering in their city. She looked around until a long, old sheet of cloth buried in the sand catches her eye. Maybe there is a way into the new city.
Haremakhet grabbed the cloth, tying it around her lower abdomen. Next, she found some mud from the bottom of the waterhole in the oasis, and painted her eyelids as if it was eyeliner; then, she spotted a couple scrap sheets of gold, and shaped them into a both a headdress and collar. Lastly, she cut some cloth from the sheet to form socklike shoes to hide her hind paws. Now she resembled the typical ancient man.
In her disguise, she stumbles over on her hind legs, slightly unstable, to the guards and asks for admission “Gentlemen, I humbly ask for permission to enter your embroidered city.”
“State your name and your purpose foreigner.” One of the guards demanded”
“My name is Amentop- no, wait, I mean, My name Amen-not-a-sphinx. I am a traveling prophet of….monotheism. The guards gazed at the strange “man”, but they gazed in awe.
“You may pass, Prophet.” The guards told Haremakhet.
“Thank you, my good men, may the gods be in your favor.” She entered the city’s gate. As she walked past the gate, the guards noticed her lion-like tail. They looked at each other in shock.
Haremakhet saw so many people different from her old home. The men wore eye makeup as well as the women, children barely wore any clothing. There were farmers, bronze smiths, merchants, and craftsmen. This city had teachers, doctors, priests, and law enforcers similar to modern day police officers. The most significant observation Haremakhet has made was the people’s skin tones, toasted to a golden brown by the bright, scorching sun. This was a whole new environment for Haremakhet; she is amazed at the exotic culture of these people.
“Wow, I’m going to like this dwelling.” She proclaimed with a gleeful grin. I better start my job search if Amen-not-a-sphinx is going to fit into society. She hurried of to her quest.
Haremakhet waits in a temple to begin her first career choice: a physician. The physician, Ankhamenhoteptutekhamen III, entered the building with a patient in cardiac arrest on a table. “Ok, Amen-not-a-sphinx, here’s a little practice for your training. An evil spirit caused a 45-year-old male who is fat and gross-looking to go into heart failure. What do you do?”
“Uh, I give him human breast milk?”
“How about I rub snake guts on his heart?”
“Oh, I got it! I should stab him and cut his heart open!” She did so, killing the patient in the process. The physician was furious. “What are you doing?! That’s not an ethical treatment!”
“Oh.” She looks at the patient, realizing that she made a mortal error. “Sorry.”
Ankhamenhoteptutekhamen III snatched Haremakhet by her collar and tossed her out onto the pavement.
“Don’t you ever show your face around my workplace again!” He yelled out before storming off back inside the temple.
Haremakhet takes out her small tablet with a checklist of her career choices. “Okay, so, the medical field is NOT for me.” she crossed out the first list item that says “Doctor”. So, maybe I’ll do better as a scribe, whatever that means. There is one small dilemma: Where do I apply to become one?” A noblewoman walked by her so Haremakhet asks her for directions. “Oh, if you’re looking to be a scribe, check out the library on Gold Avenue.”
“Oh, great! thank you so much!” Haremakhet said. “Sure, no problem, but I don’t know why you’d want to become one, considering you are a pathetic and hideous peasant.” The woman scoffed as she walked past her.“Hideous?” Haremakhet asked. “Am I really hideous?” tears were flowing from her eyes, she remembered that she is still a monster. Despite this, she traveled to the library.
Haremakhet arrived and opened the massive wooden doors. There were thousands of books on sturdy hardwood shelves. It was the treasure trove of all scholars; every single page of each book was a page of history and knowledge with the capability to lead a nation to prosperity.
“Wow.” Haremakhet exclaimed in awe. For a second she was distracted by the amazingly new atmosphere, but she shook her head and walked to the table in the left section of the library. At this table were three scribes, arguing about why the sky is blue.
“I am telling you gentlemen, the sky is blue because our god Ra spilled blue ink on it!” the first scribe said.
“What kind of theory is that, Hotep?! He did not paint the world on a canvas! Besides, the sky is blue because it was formed from water!” The second scribe said.
“You two are fools!” shouted the third scribe, “the sky is blue because it reflects the water!”
They bickered until Haremakhet intervened.
“Excuse me, wise men. I would like to join your brotherhood of people who like to argue.”
The first scribe stood up and with a stern look on his face, he says to Haremakhet, “Do you think this is a folly? Do you think science is a sham?”
“Actually, yes, ” Haremakhet replied “by the way the third guy is right. The sky does reflect the water because of the light absorbed in the water.”
“Wow!” All three scribes exclaimed.
“You sir, truly are the right person for the role of a scribe,” Hotep proclaimed, “As the leader of this chapter of the “Scribes of Horus in Improved Technology”, you are now accepted as a fellow member! What is your name?”
“Welcome to the Scribes of Horus, brother Amen-not-a-sphinx!”
“I am gracious for your invitation, my new brothers. I vow to contribute greatly to your city, I mean our city.” Haremakhet tells the scribes joyously.
Haremakhet, dressed in a cream white cloak with her gold sheet headdress and collar, has worked with the Scribes of Horus for seven years and seven days. During this time period, she has helped her new brothers research new technology: hieroglyphics, improved writing systems, the plow, door locks; they have discovered so much!
The citizens of Egypt have learned about the brilliance of “Amen-not-a-sphinx”, but little did they know “he” is actually Haremakhet.
Haremakhet lived in a house constructed from stone and clay. It was cozy and very small with only one cot, a well and stove; she did not have much but she was happy with it. Haremakhet has finally achieved her goal, she has proven the world she is a person like everyone else. All was well until one day…..
Haremakhet was on her way to work, but she had no idea that the Pharaoh’s chief minister, called a vizier, was scouting the streets, and apparently, her tail dangling from her clothing.
“Wait a minute, Man has no tail, but beast doesn’t have the face of Woman.” the vizier said, “So therefore, he must be a monster of some sort!” He rushed to Haremakhet.
“Good morning, officer,” she said, nervously. “nice day for our daily life, is it not?”
“Don’t play coy, beast. I know what you are and I will report you to the Pharaoh and have you exterminated!” the guard replied coldly.
She replied “What???? Beast?! That’s not true, sir.”
The guard tore off her clothing, and yanked the gold sheets from her neck and head.
“Look, people of the Nile Valley! Amen-not-a-sphinx is not a man, he is actually a beast, and he’s an ugly beast.
A crowd gathered around, shocked and fearful.
“Somebody kill it!”
Haremakhet tried to reassure them that they are safe. “Don’t fear good civilians, I know I’m a freak, but I mean no harm!”
Several officers arrived and one of them captured her with an animal snatcher around her throat. They then tied her legs together.
“No, please!!” She cried out, struggling to break free.
The crowd cheered as the men lifted her up and took her away.
“Destroy that beast!”
The vizier told everyone “People, please move along. There is nothing to see here.
Haremakhet was tossed in a cramped cage in a dark room of stone, imprisoned by the ignorant people of Egypt. There was a metal shackle around her throat staked to the cage floor. There were no windows, the only light in there was 4 torches on the wall. Her despair was deep, and she has given up on life.
“Well, I am doomed to my demise. It was a matter of time before they kill me. If I am to be destroyed for being a monster, then so be it.”
Tears streamed down Haremakhet face.
Three guards opened the gate to the room. One of them opened the cage and the other two put a harness around her lion-like breast.
“King Khufu wants us to bring you to him for some crazy reason.” One of the guards said to Haremakhet as he held the harness.
Now, why would the Pharaoh want to see her?
The guard escorted Haremakhet to the throne room of Khufu. Everything was golden. The walls are golden, and the floor as well. Even his throne was gold except for the seat cushion, which was colorful with a hieroglyphic pattern. The back of the throne was shaped into a cobra extending its hood. His precious treasures were all completely made of gold. Everything was gold! It was a beautiful, gorgeous room. The guard presented his prisoner to the great king of the Nile Valley.
“Great King, here is the monster terrorizing the city.”
King Khufu stood up and walked down to evaluate Haremakhet.
“Hmph! You are an interesting creature, are you not?” He said as his hand lifted her head at a 60 degree angle. “You have the head of a woman, yet you have a body of a lion.”
“Can we kill her, mighty god of the people?” The guard asked.
“No, you may not, Haka. Now go away.”
“Aw. As you wish, King” The guard exited the throne room.
Khufu removed the shackle from Haremakhet’s neck.
Haremakhet bowed down to King Khufu. “Oh, great merciful king! I am forever gracious to you, for you have saved my butt.”
“My people say you are a horrific monster, but I believe otherwise. This I know because you have convinced me you are of a pure heart. Therefore, I know I can trust in you not to do harm.”
“Aw, I love you too!” Haremakhet told him, then gave him a big hug. “Thank you for understanding my being!”
“Please, let me go.” He said, feeling awkward, and she did so.
A messenger dashes into the room, panicked.
“Pharaoh, Pharaoh! A demon is terrorizing the whole kingdom!”
“What?!” The king replied.
“I said, ‘Pharaoh, Pharaoh! A demon is terrorizing the whole kingdom!’
“I know what you said!” Khufu shouted. Then turning toward Haremakhet “Come along, um, what’s your name?”
“Haremakhet” She replied.
“Oh, lovely name.”
Now, the Pharaoh, the messenger, and Haremakhet hurried to the town square. They saw a hideous she-demon killing people, demolishing buildings with her blazing flames that come from her hands, eating cats, and knocking on people’s doors and running away. Her fangs were sharper than that of a cobra’s, her skin is redder than the devil himself, and she had the legs of a hellish goat. Her hair was basically fire, and small flaring flames fill her eyes. She was grotesque, heinous, and just plain ugly.
“What are we going to do, King Khufu?!” The messenger cried. “The demon is going to kill us off!”
“I have summoned our secret weapon” The king replied with confidence.
A large formation of soldiers marched into the town square, followed by one row of 25 chariots, and a large catapult armed with black, heavy cannonballs. They launched their siege and troop attacks on the demon but she threw a meteoroid at them, killing every man and horse.
“Ok, that did not work…” said Khufu. Then, he turns toward Haremakhet and kneels on his knees. “Noble beast,” he said. “The fate of all of humanity rests in your paws. Please, if you are able to, help rid this peaceful kingdom of such a horrid monster. Please.”
“I will do as you ask of me,” She replied gladly. “For you have saved me from my cruel fate, so I shall repay the favor to you, great Pharaoh. It’s my duty.” Then she suited up in armor design especially for lions and human heads.
Then she dashed into action, and lunged at the demon, giving her one mighty swipe of her claws. The demon shrieked, and blasted flames from her hands like a flamethrower. Haremakhet crouched down.
“ This is going to be one heated match!” She said.
The wretched hellspawn erupted in flames trying to torch the heroine beast. Fortunately, she evaded that attack, too. After a few moments the two battled, the demon was beginning to become furious, her flaming hair grew brighter and larger.
“You…beast!” she screeched in a frightening demonic voice “I will destroy all life and set the earth on fire!!” Then she summoned a massive fire from the earth. The fire formed a circle surrounding Haremakhet and its creator. With a triton of pure fire that can burn anything in the world, even steel, she tried to stab Haremakhet in her abdomen, but missed. Haremakhet lost balance and fell onto the ground. “You are a fool to challenge me,” the demon told her with the triton pointed directly to her chest. “I will annihilate you, hideous monster!”
Haremakhet was sure this was her fate, at the hands of a horrible, hideous demon.
Then she remembered all the times she was insulted and condemned.
Ugly, hideous, grotesque, beast, Monster!
Haremakhet’s fury grew and grew until she gained her strength, and grabbed the demon by her throat. The fire ring disappeared.
“Don’t you ever call me a monster EVER again.” She quietly told the demon. “Now, apologize to these people for being a jerk.”
“Are you serious?” the demon replied.
“APOLOGIZE. Or else I will cut you open and gut you of all your internal organs and torture you.”
“Ugh. Fine. Sorry, for terrorizing your village or whatever.”
“Say it like you mean it.”
“Hmmmm. Sorry, I just cannot.”
“Ok, then.” Haremakhet ripped her open.
The demon’s blood-curdling scream in agony was loud enough to pierce your eardrum. Haremakhet finished her off by cutting her heart out, and threw her over a cliff somewhere near Egypt.
“The deed is done. Does someone know where I can wash myself off at?”
The people of Egypt cheered and rejoiced, for Haremakhet has saved them all. And yes, even the vizier, even though he was a jerk. King Khufu walked toward the heroine of his people. “Haremakhet, your bravery and strength have saved my kingdom, and I will forever be in your debt. Everyone cheered even louder. Haremakhet now realized she exceeded her goal of fitting in. Her joy is great, and emotional. Too emotional. “Thank you all for finally accepting me as a good sphinx!” I’ve never been celebrated before, but now I am honored to have met you all.” She told the people, crying uncontrollably. T’is indeed was a glorious day for all.
The next day, a special ceremony was held in honor of Haremakhet. King Khufu walked on to the stage. “People of the Nile,” he began. “It is a wondrous occasion that is worthy to be celebrated nationally. We all have been wrong to judge her by how she looks, well you all mostly. Shame on all of you.” Well anyway, the Scribes of Horus in Improved Technology have informed me that she was the fourth scribe who have contributed greatly to improve our way of life.” He took a beautiful gilded headdress decorated with precious gems. “So, it is in my power to proclaim this brilliant, brave sphinx the title of Pharaoh’s royal companion, the royal scribe!”
The Egyptians roared with applause, singing and cheering. Later, Khufu ordered the architects to build a monument in the honor of Haremakhet, and thus the Great Sphinx of Piza was built.
And so, that is the real legend of the sphinx. She lived happily in Egypt as the personal scribe of the Pharaoh and helped him with big decisions. She was also given great treasures of gold, but she was still generous, providing for the poor. She was a great noblewoman who eventually became the ultimate Goddess of the Nile. She was not a monster, she was strange, but not a monster.
Jeffersonville High School, 2019