Riddles II

Limerick Riddles

Homer's Failure


To Solutions

To Puzzle Index

The Dying King

The Pearly Gates




Who's Got the Knife?

Heavy Cubes

Death Sentence

To Riddles I

The city of Thebes was afflicted by the plague. A Sphinx with a woman's head and breasts, a bird's wings and a lion's body lay crouched on a rock at the entrance to the city and accosted all who were about to enter, asking them a riddle. Until the riddle was solved, the city would continue to suffer under the terrible plague which the Sphinx had imposed upon it as a punishment. The riddle was as follows:

What is it that has four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?

Oedipus eventually solved the riddle, freeing the city from the Sphinx and the terrible plague, and becoming king of Thebes. What was his answer to the Sphinx?


"I'm a strange creature, for I satisfy women,
a service to the neighbours!
No one suffers at my hand except for my slayer.
I grow very tall, erect in a bed, I'm hairy underneath.
From time to time a good-looking girl, the doughty
daughter of some churl dare to hold me, grips my russet
skin, robs me of my head and puts me in the pantry.
At once that girl with plaited hair who has confined
me remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens."


  1. This riddle dates from before 1000 B.C .
    "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." What am I?

  2. Adam, God made out of dust, But thought it best to make me first.
    So I was made before the man, To answer Gods most holy plan.

    My body God did make complete, But without arms or legs or feet.
    My ways and acts He did control, But to my body gave no soul.

    A living being I became, And Adam gave to me a name.
    I from his presence then withdrew, and moreof Adam never knew.

    I did my Maker's law obey, Nor from it ever went astray.
    Thousands of miles I go in fear, But seldom on the earth appear.

    For a purpose wise which God did see, He put a living soul in me.
    A soul from me my God did claim, And took from me that again.

    And when from me that soul had fled, I was the same as when first made.
    And without hands or feet or soul, I travel on from pole to pole.

    I labor hard by day and night, To fallen man I give great light.
    Thousands of people young and old, Will by my death great light behold.

    Nor right nor wrong can i concieve, The Scriptures I cannot believe.
    Although my name is therein found, They are to me an empty sound.

    No fear of death doth trouble me, Real happiness I never shall see.
    To Heaven I shall never go, Or to the grave or Hell below.

    Now when these lines you slowly read, Gosearch your Bible, with all speed.
    For that my name's recorded there, I honestly to you declare.
    What am I?
    Written by Lucy King


It has been suggested that Homer's chagrin at his failure to solve a riddle posed to him by young boys fishing may have precipitated his death. See if you can solve the fisher-boys's riddle.

1. All that we caught, we left behind;
and all that we could not catch, we kept.
What is it?

Next, try the one below.

2. He went to the woods and caught it, He sat him down and sought it, Because he could not find it, Home with him he brought it.

What was it?

Back|Short story of Homer

A long, long time ago, in a world much like our own, there lived a benevolent king who was mortally wounded one day while hunting wild boar. The kingdom was shocked, and, to make matters worse, the court held no heirs to the king's throne (neither sons nor daughters nor any relatives of royal lineage). Anyway, the king's wise man had heard rumours of a son, fathered by the king, but not born of the queen (i.e. a bastard son) who was raised somewhere in the kingdom. Being the wise man that he was, he called all the young men who cared to claim the throne to the castle, took them in a small room, and one by one proceeded to test them. His test was simple: He asked one boon/task of each of the young men who came into the room (the same for all of them), and after countless men had been questioned, he finally came up with one who refused (and gave the proper reason for his refusal). This man he crowned king, and all the townspeople cheered when they heard the faultless logic behind his decision.

What did the wise man ask each of the young men, and why would only the one who refused be crowned king?


You are walking along minding your own business when a snare suddenly grabs your foot and yanks you upside down 30 feet off the ground. When you stop swinging you realize you won't be able to just climb up the rope, because you are right beneath a large platform with no holds on the bottom. You examine the rope and see that there is no way to untie it.

"If only I had a knife..." Then you notice slight movement at the edges of the underside of the platform and see that the movement is actually thousands of army ants beginning to move down over the platform to the underside and towards you. They look exceedingly hungry. They don't look like vegetarians.

When things look hopeless, you notice a sphinx couple sitting on a huge branch. One of them throws a knife into the air and when it comes back down, they both reach for it. You cannot tell which one actually grabbed it. All you know is that you need that knife to cut yourself free.

The male sphinx says, "The sphinx with the knife always tells the truth." But the female sphinx counters, "He's wrong, the sphinx with the knife always lies." As luck would have it, one of them always lies and one of them always tells the truth. Using only these two statements as data, you get one chance to guess who has the knife. Of course you'll get the knife when you answer correctly!

The ants are approaching. Who has the knife, and why do you think this?


I have two solid lead cubes, one just slightly smaller than the other. I cut a hole through one of them (without destroying the continuity of its four sides) so that the other cube could be passed through it. On weighing them afterwards it was found that the larger cube was still the heavier of the two.

How is this possible?


You are a prisoner sentenced to death. However, you might be able to escape through an unorthodox determination of fate. The night before your planned execution, you are brought to two large boxes. One contains fifty white balls, the other contains fifty black balls. The next day, the executioner is to reach blindfold into either box, and draw a ball. A black ball represents death for you, a white ball lets you go free. Beforehand, you are allowed to mix up each box, placing some white balls in the black box or vice versa. Each box must contain at least one ball, and you are not allowed to take any balls away - all one hundred balls must remain.

Now, placing white balls on top of a box is impossible, since the executioner is blindfold and could reach to the bottom of the box. Is there any way to maximize your chances of living?


A man dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. He finds himself in a long corridor with two doors, and he knows that one leads to Heaven and one leads to Hell. However, he doesn't know which is which! Sitting next to these two doors, at either end of the corridor, are two men: the truthful man and the liar.

The liar is not deceitful, because he can't help but lie when asked a question.
However, the man can always rely on what the truthful man says. However, they look identical and he cannot tell which one is the liar and which one the truthful man.

To find out which is the door to Heaven, he can ask either the man on the left or the man on the right just one question! !


I sit stern on the rock while I'm raising the wind,
But the storm once abated, I'm gentle and kind.
Kings sit at my feet who wait at my nod,
To kneel in the dust on the ground I have trod.
I'm seen by the world, and known by but a few,
Detested by Gentiles, I'm pork to the Jew.
I never have passed but one night in the dark,
And that was with Noah alone in the Ark.
My weight is three pounds, my length is a mile,
And when I'm discovered, you'll say with a smile -
That my first and my last are the pride of this isle.


I sought my first in starry skies,
Where shines the april sun;
My second came before my eyes,
And warmed me to be done.
'Tis very hard to lose ones sight;
I'm blind as bat or mole;
Once hills and fields were my delight,
Now I'm no more whole.

What am I?


I turn polar bears white
and I will make you cry.
I make guys have to pee
and girls comb their hair.
I make celebrities look stupid
and normal people look like celebrities.
I turn pancakes brown
and make your champagne bubble.
If you squeeze me, I'll pop.
If you look at me, you'll pop.
What am I?