9 Ancient Riddles to Strain Your Modern Noggin

Are you smarter than a 5th-century-ier?
9 Ancient Riddles to Strain Your Modern Noggin

Before they were primarily the domain of goblins and trolls, riddles were a commonplace thing for ancient humans to swap and stump each other with. After all, its not like they had Wordle on their phones back then. We also like to think of ourselves as much more educated than the general public of old, but lets find out if youd be able to answer riddles three upon exiting a time machine.

And so, here are nine riddles from the past, with their answers at the end. Keep in mind that some of them are a little more poetic and a little less pun-based than your modern “a room with no doors or windows is a mushroom” fare.

An Ancient Sumerian Riddle

There is a house. 

One enters it blind and comes out seeing. 

What is it?

The Sphinx s Riddle


What walks on four legs in the morning, 

on two legs at noon, 

and on three legs in the evening?

A Riddle Famously Delivered to the Poet Homer by Fishermen

What we caught we threw away. 

What we didnt catch, we kept.

What did we keep?

An Ancient Norse Riddle

Four hang, four sprang,

two to point the way, two to ward off dogs,

one dangles after, always rather dirty.

What am I?

A Riddle From Medieval Europe


Everyone who goes on the road eventually stops for a rest.

But my road never ends, and I never get to stop.

I endure a perpetual journey which the years cannot stop.

Nations and kings cannot prevent my journey.

Who am I?

An Ancient Greek Riddle

I look at you whenever you look at me.

You see but I see not, no sight have I.

I speak but have no voice, your voice is heard.

My lips can only open uselessly.

What am I?

Another One From the Ancient Greeks

I am a black child sprung from a bright sire.

A wingless bird, fleeting to heaven from earth.

Each eye that meets me weeps, but not from grief,

And in thin air I vanish at my birth.

What am I?

An Old English Riddle From the Exeter Book


I am biting but I do not bite anyone,

and many want to bite the biter.

Dont be scared, I do not have any teeth.

Who am I?

Another Old English Riddle

I have little courage but great resources.

I do not seek wealth, but I give it to others.

Wandering around, I eat humble foods,

and I am often forced to give up my wealth.

I have no money, but even kings value me.

Who am I?

The Answers

9: A school. One enters “blind” and leaves educated.

8: Man. The “day” here is a human lifespan. A baby crawls on four legs, an adult walks on two, and in old age, a cane becomes the third.

7: Lice, or really, any parasite. The lice that are caught would obviously be disposed of, while the ones that escape remain on their head.

6: A cow. The two fours are legs and udders, with a “rather dirty” tail.

5: The sun.

4: Your reflection.

3: Smoke.

2: An onion, the taste of which could definitely be described as “biting.”

1: A sheep. Their wool is a valuable resource, as anyone whos played Settlers of Catan can attest.

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