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A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved. Riddles are of two types: enigmas, which are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity and careful thinking for their solution, and conundra, which are questions relying for their effects on punning in either the question or the answer.
Archer Taylor says that "we can probably say that riddling is a universal art" and cites riddles from hundreds of different cultures including Finnish, Hungarian, American Indian, Chinese, Russian, Dutch and Filipino sources amongst many others. In the assessment of Elli Köngas Maranda (originally writing about Malaitian riddles, but with an insight that has been taken up more widely), whereas myths serve to encode and establish social norms, 'riddles make a point of playing with conceptual boundaries and crossing them for the intellectual pleasure of showing that things are not quite as stable as they seem' -- though the point of doing so may still ultimately be to 'play with boundaries, but ultimately to affirm them'.
- 1 Definitions and research
- 2 Ancient and medieval riddles
- 3 Early-modern to nineteenth-century riddles
- 4 Contemporary riddles
- 5 Riddle-contests
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Definitions and research
Defining riddles precisely is hard and has attracted a fair amount of scholarly debate. The first major modern attempt to define the riddle was by Robert Petsch in 1899, with another seminal contribution, inspired by structuralism, by Robert A. Georges and Alan Dundes in 1963. Georges and Dundes suggested that 'a riddle is a traditional verbal expression which contains one or more descriptive elements, a pair of which may be in opposition; the referent of the elements is to be guessed'.
In some traditions and contexts, riddles may overlap with proverbs. An example from a different language, 'Nothing hurts it, but it groans all the time' can be deployed as a proverb (when its referent is a hypocrite) or as a riddle (when its referent is a pig).
Much academic research on riddles has focused on collecting, cataloguing, defining and typologising riddles, with much of the key recent work done in the 1960s and 1970s. Key work on cataloguing and typologising riddles was published by Antti Aarne in 1918-20, and by Archer Taylor. In the case of ancient riddles recorded without solutions, considerable scholarly energy also goes into proposing and debating solutions.
Whereas previously researchers had tended to take riddles out of their social performance contexts, the rise of anthropology in the post-War period encouraged more researchers to study the social role of riddles and riddling. However, wide-ranging studies of riddles have tended to be limited to Western countries, with Oriental and African riddles being relatively neglected.
Ancient and medieval riddles
The riddle was at times a prominent literary form in the ancient and medieval world, and so riddles are extensively, if patchily, attested in our written records from these periods.
According to Archer Taylor, 'the oldest recorded riddles are Babylonian school texts which show no literary polish'. The answers to the riddles are not preserved; they include 'my knees hasten, my feet do not rest, a shepherd without pity drives me to pasture' (a river? A rowboat?); 'you went and took the enemy's property; the enemy came and took your property' (a weaving shuttle?); 'who becomes pregnant without conceiving, who becomes fat without eating?' (a raincloud?). 'It is clear that we have here riddles from oral tradition that a teacher has put into a schoolbook.'
Sanskrit and later Indic languages
It is thought that the world's earliest surviving poetic riddles survive in the Sanskrit Rigveda. 'The Sanskrit term that most closely corresponds to the English "riddle," and which is usually translated thereby, is prahelikā—a term that is not only of uncertain etymology but is also subject to widely differing interpretations and classifications.'
The highly sophisticated quality of many Sanskrit riddles can perhaps be adequately illustrated by one rather simple example ... 'Who moves in the air? Who makes a noise on seeing a thief? Who is the enemy of lotuses? Who is the climax of fury?' The answers to the first three questions, when combined in the manner of a charade, yield the answer to the fourth question. The first answer is bird (vi), the second dog (çva), the third sun (mitra), and the whole is Viçvamitra, Rama's first teacher and counselor and a man noted for his outbursts of rage.
Accordingly, riddles are treated in early studies of Sanskrit poetry such as Daṇḍin's seventh- or eighth-century Kāvyādarśa, the Kāvyālaṃkāra of Bhāmaha (c. 700), or the fifteenth-century Sāhityadarpaṇa by Viśwanātha Kaviraja. Thus, for example, Daṇḍin cites this as an example of a name-riddle (nāmaprahelikā): 'A city, five letters, the middle one is a nasal, the ruling lineage of which is an eight-letter word' (the answer being Kāñcī, ruled by the Pallavāḥ dynasty).
The first riddle collection in a medieval Indic language was by Amir Khusro (1253–1325): although he mostly wrote in Persian, he wrote his riddles in the language he called Hindawi. It contains 286 riddles, divided into six groups, 'apparently on the basis of the structure of the riddle and the structure of the answer'; 'these riddles are "in the style of the common people", but most scholars believe they were composed by Khusro'. The riddles are in Mātrika metre; one example is:
Nar naari kehlaati ha',
aur bin warsha jal jati hai;
Purkh say aaway purkh mein jaai,
na di kisi nay boojh bataai.
Is known by both masculine and feminine names,
And burns up without rain;
Originates from a man and goes into a man,
But no one has been able to guess what it is.
The emboldened text here indicates a clue woven into the text: it is a pun on nadi ('river').
Old Testament and Hebrew riddles
While riddles are not numerous in the Bible, they are present, most famously in Samson's riddle in Judges xiv.14, but also in I Kings 10:1-13 (where the Queen of Sheba tests Solomon's wisdom), and in the Talmud. Sirach also mentions riddles as a popular dinner pastime.
However, under the influence of Arabic literature in medieval al-Andalus, there was a flourishing of literary Hebrew riddles in verse during the Middle Ages. Dunash ben Labrat (920-990), credited with transposing Arabic metres into Hebrew, composed a number of riddles, mostly apparently inspired by folk-riddles. Exponents included Moses ibn Ezra, Yehuda Alharizi, and Judah Halevi. Immanuel the Roman wrote riddles, as did Israel Onceneyra.
Ancient Greece and Rome
Riddles are known to have been popular in Greece in Hellenistic times, and possibly before; they were prominent among the entertainments and challenges presented at symposia. Oracles were also represented as speaking in often riddlic language. However, the first significant corpus of Greek riddles survives in an anthology of earlier material known as the Greek Anthology, which contains about 50 verse riddles, probably put into its present form by Constantine Cephalas, working in the tenth century CE. Most surviving ancient Greek riddles are in verse. In the second chapter of Book III of Aristotle's Rhetoric, the philosopher stated that "good riddles do, in general, provide us with satisfactory metaphors: for metaphors imply riddles, and therefore a good riddle can furnish a good metaphor."
Literary riddles were also composed in Byzantium, from perhaps the tenth century with the work of John Geometres, into the fifteenth century, along with a neo-Byzantine revival in around the early eighteenth century. There was a particular peak around the long twelfth century.
Two Latin riddles are preserved as graffiti in the Basilica at Pompeii. The principal collection of ancient Latin riddles is a collection of 100 hexametrical riddles by Symphosius, which were influential on later medieval Latin writers: a further 63 were composed around the seventh century in Italy in a collection known now as the Berne Riddles, and Symphosius's collection inspired a number of Anglo-Saxon riddlers. They remained influential in medieval Castilian tradition, being the basis for the second set of riddles in the thirteenth-century Libro de Apolonio, posed by Apolonio's daughter Tarsiana to her father. The perhaps eighth- or ninth-century Veronese Riddle is a key witness to the linguistic transition from Latin to Romance.
Arabic and Persian
In the medieval period, verse riddles, alongside other puzzles and conundra, became a significant literary form in the Arabic-speaking world, and accordingly in Islamic Persian culture. Since early Arabic and Persian poetry often features rich, metaphorical description, and ekphrasis, there is a natural overlap in style and approach between poetry generally and riddles specifically; literary riddles are therefore often a subset of the descriptive poetic form known in both traditions as wasf. Riddles are attested in anthologies of poetry and in prosimetrical portrayals of riddle-contests in Arabic maqāmāt and in Persian epics such as the Shahnameh. Several stories in One Thousand and One Nights involve riddles. In both Arabic and Persian, riddles seem to have become increasingly scholarly in style over time, increasingly emphasising riddles and puzzles in which the interpreter has resolve clues to letters and numbers to put together the word which is the riddle's solution.
Riddles have been collected by modern scholars throughout the Arabic-speaking world.
The medieval Germanic-speaking world
Verse riddles were made a prominent literary form early in the period of literacy in the Germanic-speaking world by the Anglo-Saxon Aldhelm (c. 639-709), writing in Latin and inspired by the fourth- or fifth-century Latin poet Symphosius. He was followed by a number of other Anglo-Saxons writing riddles in Latin. This prestigious literary heritage contextualises the survival of nearly one hundred riddles in the tenth-century Exeter Book, one of the most important surviving collections of Old English verse. The riddles in this book vary in significance from ribald innuendo to theological sophistication; three, Exeter Book Riddle 35 and Riddles 40/66, are in origin translations of riddles by Aldhelm (and Riddle 35 the only Old English riddle to be attested in another manuscript besides the Exeter Book). Unlike the pithy three-line riddles of Symphosius, the Old English riddles tend to be quite discursive, often musing on complex processes of manufacture when describing artefacts such as mead (Exeter Book Riddle 27) or a reed-pen or -pipe (Exeter Book Riddle 60). They are noted for providing perspectives on the world which give voice to actors which tend not to appear in Old English poetry, ranging from female slaves to animals and plants, and often subvert the conventions of Old English heroic and religious poetry.
Old Norse literature, though closely connected with Anglo-Saxon literature, attests to few riddles: almost all occur in one section of Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, in which the god Óðinn propounds around 37 riddles (depending on the manuscript). Unlike the Old English riddles, these take a fairly tight stanzaic form, often with formulaic phrases like 'hvat er þat undra, er ek úti sá | fyrir Dellings durum?' ('what wonder is that, which I saw outside, before the doors of Dellingr?'). They provide insights into Norse mythology, medieval Scandinavian social norms, and rarely used poetic forms. They were also the subject of a seventeenth-century commentary by Björn Jónsson á Skarðsa. The influence of printed versions of the text also led the so-called 'Óðinn riddle' to become a popular oral riddle. The original riddle is:
Hverir eru þeir tveir
er tíu hafa fœtr,
ok einn hala?
hyggðu at gátu!
Who are those twain
that on ten feet run,
three their eyes are
but only one tail?
This riddle ponder
O prince Heidrek!
A modern Swedish children's variant of the same runs 'vad har tre ögon, tio ben och en svans?' ('what has three eyes, ten legs and a tail?').
Riddles survive only fragmentarily in Old High German; about 150 survive in Middle High German, mostly quoted in other literary contexts.
The Finnic-speaking world
The corpus of traditional riddles from the Finnic-speaking world (including the modern Finland, Estonia, and parts of Western Russia) is fairly unitary, though eastern Finnish-speaking regions show particular influence of Russian Orthodox Christianity and Slavonic riddle culture. The Finnish for 'riddle' is arvoitus (pl. arvoitukset), related to the verb arvata ('guess').
Finnic riddles are noteworthy in relation to the rest of the world's oral riddle canon for its original imagery, their abundance of sexual riddles, and the interesting collision of influences from east and west; along with the attestation in some regions of an elaborate riddle-game. Riddles provide some of the first surviving evidence for Finnish-language literature.
Early-modern to nineteenth-century riddles
With the advent of print, collections of riddles and similar kinds of questions began to be published. A large number of riddle collections were printed in the German-speaking world and, partly under German influence, in Scandinavia. Major collections from this period include the French Adevineaux amoureux (printed in Bruges by Colard Mansion around 1479); Demandes joyeuses en maniere de quolibets, the basis for Wynkyn de Worde's 1511 Demaundes Joyous; and the 1598 Riddles of Heraclitus and Democritus, which includes for example the following riddle:
- First I was small, and round like a pearl;
- Then long and slender, as brave as an earl;
- Since, like an hermit, I lived in a cell,
- And now, like a rogue, in the wide world I dwell.
Riddles are prominent in some early-modern ballads. Some of those included in the Child Ballads are 'Riddles Wisely Expounded' (Child 1), 'The Elfin Knight' (Child 2), 'King John and the Bishop' (Child 45), 'Captain Wedderburn's Courtship' (Child 46), and 'Proud Lady Margaret' (Child 47).
The term charade was borrowed into English from French in the second half of the eighteenth century, denoting a 'kind of riddle in which each syllable of a word, or a complete word or phrase, is enigmatically described or dramatically represented'. The term gradually became more popularly used to refer to acted charades, examples of which are described in William Thackeray's Vanity Fair and in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.
Written forms of charade appeared in magazines, books, and on the folding fans of the Regency. The answers were sometimes printed on the reverse of the fan, suggesting that they were a flirting device, used by a young woman to tease her beau. One charade composed by Jane Austen goes as follows:
- When my first is a task to a young girl of spirit,
- And my second confines her to finish the piece,
- How hard is her fate! but how great is her merit
- If by taking my whole she effects her release!
The answer is "hem-lock".
- I talk, but I do not speak my mind
- I hear words, but I do not listen to thoughts
- When I wake, all see me
- When I sleep, all hear me
- Many heads are on my shoulders
- Many hands are at my feet
- The strongest steel cannot break my visage
- But the softest whisper can destroy me
- The quietest whimper can be heard.
The answer is "an actor".
Britain and America
Contemporary riddles typically use puns and double entendres for humorous effect, rather than to puzzle the butt of the joke, as in "Why is six afraid of seven?" "Because seven eight nine (eight can be replaced with ate)." These riddles are now mostly children's humour and games rather than literary compositions.
Some riddles are composed of foreign words and play on similar sounds, as in:
- There were two cats, 1 2 3 cat and un deux trois cat, they had a swimming race from England to France. Who won?
- 1 2 3 Cat because Un deux trois quatre cinq (un deux trois cat sank)
The previous plays on the fact that the French words for 4 and 5 are pronounced similar to the English words "Cat" and "Sank", hence the pun being the cat sank while also counting to 5 in French.
Anthropological research in Africa has produced extensive collections of riddles over the last century or so. Riddles have been characterised as 'one of the most important forms of oral art in Africa'; Hamnett analyzes African riddling from an anthropological viewpoint; Yoruba riddles have enjoyed a recent monograph study.
In the Philippines
Quite similar to its English counterpart, the riddle in the Philippines is called Bugtong. It is traditionally used during a funeral wake together with other games such as tong-its or the more popular sakla, later generations use Bugtong as a form of past time or as an activity. One peculiarity of the Filipino version is the way they start with the phrase Bugtong-bugtong before saying the riddle, usually it is common to create riddles that rhyme.
An example of a Tagalog Bugtong:
Similarly, a bit south, in Sulawesi, Indonesia, among the Pendau, riddles are also used at funeral gatherings.
In Tamil language
Riddles are of type
Riddles are mostly found in oral form. The structure resembles folk songs. Most of the riddles are based on the living things and objects around our day-to-day life. A sample riddle is given below.
The Riddle Game is a formalized guessing game, a contest of wit and skill in which players take turns asking riddles. The player that cannot answer loses. Riddle games occur frequently in mythology and folklore as well as in popular literature.
It is important to understand that in many cultures or contexts, people are not actually expected to guess the answers to riddles: they may be told by the riddler, or learn riddles and their answers together as they grow up. Thus riddle-contests are not the only or even necessarily the main forum for the expression of riddles.
The unsolvable riddle with which literary characters often win a riddle-contest is sometimes referred to as neck-riddle.
In ancient and medieval literature
In older texts, riddle-contests frequently provide the frame stories whereby riddles have been preserved for posterity. One of the earliest surviving examples of a narrative text incorporating a riddle-contest is the Indian Mahabharata, which took its attested shape in the course of the first millennium BC. For example, this portrays Yaksha Prashna, a series of riddles posed by a nature-spirit (yaksha) to Yudhishthira.
Ferdowsi's late tenth-century Persian epic, the Shahnameh, features a riddle-contest between Zal and Manuchehr, the emperor of Iran. 'The emperor was frightened and planned to get Zal out of the way. After his counselors advised him that Zal would become an unparalleled hero with a boundless love for Iran, the emperor accepted Zal and tested him with riddles. The themes are cosmological.'
The story of Turandot in One Thousand and One Nights, which was the inspiration for several modern plays, involves a riddle-contest: the suitors need to answer all three questions to gain the Princess's hand, or else they are beheaded; in Puccini's opera, Turandot grimly warns Calaf 'the riddles are three, but Death is one'.
We owe almost all our surviving riddles in Old Norse to a section in the c. thirteenth-century Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, where the god Óðinn challenges King Heiðrekr to answer his riddles. This was influential on later literature: disguised, the god plays one such game in Richard Wagner's Siegfried.
In post-medieval practice
Elaborate and unusual riddle-games took place in the culture of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Finnish-language riddles. For example, Elias Lönnrot observed customary riddle-contests in nineteenth-century Finland:
It took place without teams, but was a kind of a contest: a member of the group would be sent out of the room, the others agreed on the riddle to be posed; for three failures to divine the answer, the riddlee would have to drop out of the game, to step aside, and to "buy" with a token the right to participate again.
In modern literature
In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit Gollum challenges Bilbo Baggins to a riddle competition for his life. Bilbo breaks "the ancient rules" of the game but is able to escape with Gollum's magic ring. As happens in the Norse tale, although Bilbo asked more of a simple question than a riddle, by attempting to answer it rather than challenging it Gollum accepted it as a riddle; by accepting it, his loss was binding.
In Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle-Master trilogy, the ancient art of riddlery is taught at the College of Caithnard - the study based on books recovered from the ruins of the School of Wizards. The riddles in the series are composed of three parts - the question, the answer, and the stricture - and are both a way of recording history and a guide to living life. Riddles play a crucial role in the series, the main protagonist, Morgon of Hed, beginning his journey by winning the crown of the kings of Aum in a Riddle Game with the ancient ghost of Peven of Aum; Peven had a standing wager going that no one could win a riddle-game with him, and those who lost against him forfeited their lives. "Beware the unanswered riddle."
In Stephen King's The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands and The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, the ka-tet must riddle against Blaine the Mono in order to save their lives. At first Blaine can answer all riddles posed to him by the ka-tet easily, but then Eddie Dean, one of the ka-tet, gains the upper hand when he starts to ask joke riddles, effectively frustrating Blaine's highly logical mind.
In the Batman comic books, one of the hero's best known enemies is The Riddler who is personally compelled to supply clues about his upcoming crimes to his enemies in the form of riddles and puzzles. Stereotypically, they are these kinds of simple children's riddles, but modern treatments generally prefer to have the character use more sophisticated puzzles.
- Missing dollar riddle
- Newspaper riddle
- Oedipus and the Sphinx
- Riddles (Anglo-Saxon)
- Riddles (Arabic)
- Riddles (Finnic)
- Riddles (Greek)
- Riddle joke
- Neck riddle
|Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article Riddle.|
|Look up riddle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Puzzles And Riddles – A mix of both original and classic riddles.
- Riddles at DMOZ – An active listing of riddle links.
- Isbell, Billy Jean. "Riddle Games among Quechua Speakers." Journal of Latin American Lore 1977; 3:1, 19-49. (pdf)
- Archer Taylor, English Riddles from Oral Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951), p. 3.
- Elli Köngäs Maranda, 'Riddles and Riddling: An Introduction', The Journal of American Folklore, 89 (1976), 127-37 (p. 131); DOI: 10.2307/539686; http://www.jstor.org/stable/539686; cf. Hannah Burrows, 'Wit and Wisdom: The Worldview of the Old Norse-Icelandic Riddles and their Relationship to Eddic Poetry', in Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond: Poetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway, ed. by Martin Chase (New York: Forham University Press, 2014), pp. 114-35 (p. 116).
- 'Neue Beitrëge zur Kenntnis des Volksrätsels', Palaestra, 4 (1899).
- 'Toward a Structural Definition of the Riddle', The Journal of American Folklore, 76 (1963), 111-18; DOI: 10.2307/538610; http://www.jstor.org/stable/538610.
- 'Towards a Structural Definition of the Riddle', Journal of American Folklore, 76 (1963), 111-18 (rprt. in Alan Dundes, Analytic Essays in Folklore (The Hague: Mouton, 1975), pp. 95-102.
- John C. Messenger, Jr. 1960. Anang Proverb-Riddles. The Journal of American Folklore Vol. 73, No. 289: pp. 225-235.
- p. 418. Finnegan, Ruth. Oral Literature in Africa. The Saylor Foundation, 1982.
- Umoh, S. J. 2007. The Ibibio Proverb—Riddles and Language Pedagogy. International Journal of Linguistics and Communication 11(2), 8-13.
- Alan Dundes, 'On the Structure of the Proverb', in Analytic Essays in Folklore, ed. by Richard Dorson (The Hague: Mouton, 1975), pp. 103-8.
- Vergleichende Rätselforschungen, 3 vols, Folklore Fellows Communications, 26-28 (Helsinki, 1918, 1919; Hamina, 1920).
- A Bibliography of Riddles, Folklore Fellows Communications, 126 (Helsinki, 1939).
- E.g. Patrick J. Murphy, Unriddling the Exteter Riddles (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011).
- E.g. David Evans, 'Riddling and the Structure of Context', The Journal of American Folklore, 89 (1976), 166-88; DOI: 10.2307/539688; http://www.jstor.org/stable/539688; Annikki Kaivola-Bregenhøj, Riddles: Perspectives on the Use, Function, and Change in a Folklore Genre, Studia Fennica, Folkloristica, 10 (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2001), http://dx.doi.org/10.21435/sff.10; http://oa.finlit.fi/site/books/detail/12/riddles/.
- A. A. Seyed-Gohrab, Courtly Riddles: Enigmatic Embellishments in Early Persian Poetry (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2010), 14-18.
- Elli Köngäs Maranda, 'Riddles and Riddling: An Introduction', The Journal of American Folklore, 89 (1976), 127-37 (pp. 135-37); DOI: 10.2307/539686; http://www.jstor.org/stable/539686.
- Archer Taylor, The Literary Riddle before 1600 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 12-13, citing M. Jaeger, 'Assyrische Räthsel und Sprichwörter', Beiträge zur Assyriologie, 2 (1894), 274-305.
- A. A. Seyeb-Gohrab, Courtly Riddles: Enigmatic Embellishments in Early Persian Poetry (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2010), 14).
- Richard Salomon, 'When is a Riddle not a Riddle? Some Comments on Riddling and Related Poetic Devices in Classical Sanskrit', in Untying the Knot: On Riddles and Other Enigmatic Modes, ed. by Galit Hasan-Rokem and David Shulman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 168-78 (p. 168).
- Archer Taylor, The Literary Riddle before 1600 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 13-17, citing [Martin] Haug, 'Vedische Räthselfragen und Räthselsprüche', Sitzungsberichte d. k. Akad. d. Wissenschaften, philosophisch-philologische Classe, II.3 (Munich 1875). See also J. Huizinga, Homo Ludens: Proeve eener bepaling van het spel-element der cultuur (Haarlem, 1940), pp. 154ff.
- Archer Taylor, The Literary Riddle before 1600 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 16-17, citing A. Führer, 'Sanskrit-Räthsel', Zeitschrift der Deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 39 (1885), 99-100.
- Prakash Vatuk, Ved (1969). "Amir Khusro and Indian Riddle Tradition". The Journal of American Folklore. 82: 142–54 . doi:10.2307/539075. citing Durga Bhagwat, The Riddle in Indian Life, Lore and Literature (Bombay, 1965), 5-9..
- Bronner, Yigal (2012). "A Question of Priority: Revisiting the Bhamaha-Daṇḍin Debate". The Journal of Indian Philosophy. 40: 67–118 . doi:10.1007/s10781-011-9128-x. Citing Kāvyādarśa 3.114.
- Annikki Kaivola-Bregenhøj, Riddles: Perspectives on the Use, Function, and Change in a Folklore Genre, Studia Fennica, Folkloristica, 10 (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2001), pp. 11-12; http://dx.doi.org/10.21435/sff.10.
- Prakash Vatuk, Ved (1969). "Amir Khusro and Indian Riddle Tradition". The Journal of American Folklore. 82: 142–54 [144, 143]. doi:10.2307/539075.
- Joseph Jacobs, 'Riddle', in The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, ed. by Isidore Singer (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1901-1907), s.v.
- Archer Taylor, The Literary Riddle before 1600 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 41-42.
- Archer Taylor, The Literary Riddle before 1600 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 33-35, citing Nehemya Aluny, 'Ten Dunash Ben Labrat's Riddles', The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, 36 (1945), 141-46, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1452496.
- See further Archer Taylor, The Literary Riddle before 1600 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1948), pp. 35-37.
- Frederick G. Naerebout and Kim Beerden, ' "Gods Cannot Tell Lies": Riddling and Ancient Greek Divination', in The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, ed. by Jan Kwapzt, David Petrain, and Mikolaj Szymanski (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 121-47 (p. 140).
- Frederick G. Naerebout and Kim Beerden, ' "Gods Cannot Tell Lies": Riddling and Ancient Greek Divination', in The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, ed. by Jan Kwapzt, David Petrain, and Mikolaj Szymanski (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 121-47.
- Christine Luz, 'What has it got in its Pocketses? Or, What Makes a Riddle a Riddle?', in The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, ed. by Jan Kwapzt, David Petrain, and Mikolaj Szymanski (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 83-99.
- Jan Kwapisz, 'Were there Hellenistic Riddle Books?', in The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, ed. by Jan Kwapzt, David Petrain, and Mikolaj Szymanski (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 148-67 (p. 148).
- Christine Luz, 'What has it got in its Pocketses? Or, What Makes a Riddle a Riddle?', in The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, ed. by Jan Kwapzt, David Petrain, and Mikolaj Szymanski (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 83-99 (p. 84).
- Aristotle's Rhetoric Book III, Chapter 2 - http://rhetoric.eserver.org/aristotle/rhet3-2.html
- Milovanović-Barham, Čelica (1993). "Aldhelm's Enigmata and Byzantine Riddles". Anglo-Saxon England. 22: 51–64 [pp. 53–54, esp. n. 11]. doi:10.1017/S0263675100004300.
- Rebcca R. Benefiel, 'Magic Squares, Alphabet Jumbles, Riddles and More: The Culture of Word-Games among the Graffiti of Pompeii', in The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry, ed. by Jan Kwapzt, David Petrain, and Mikolaj Szymanski (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 65-79 (pp. 72-75).
- Andrew Welsh, 'Riddle' in Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs, ed. by Carl Lindahl, John McNamara and John Lindow, 2 vols (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000), II 824-32 (pp. 826-27).
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