Paradox and Riddles - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Religion

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Riddles

A riddle was called griphos (lit., "fishing creel," or something intricate) or ainigma ("dark saying") in Greek and aenigma ("problem") in Latin. The modern meaning of enigma, "that which is unknown and remains obscure," reflects this ancestry. Riddles may or may not have solutions. As the English saying "It remains a riddle" indicates, what cannot be known remains a mystery. In Greek, mustērion meant something beyond the comprehension of human intelligence.

Riddles have been known since antiquity and throughout the world. The oldest recorded riddles are found in Babylonian school textbooks, in which one finds such riddles as: "Who becomes pregnant without conceiving, who gets fat without eating?" The answer, not given in the textbook, is probably a "rain cloud." (Taylor, 1948, pp. 12–13) The Greek poet Pindar called the Sphinx's question a riddle (ainigma); Plato alludes to the punning riddles common in his time...

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This section contains 5,431 words
(approx. 19 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Paradox and Riddles Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Religion
Paradox and Riddles from Encyclopedia of Religion. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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