All through the ages riddles have fascinated people. According to old Greek myths, the Sphinx asked Oedipus this riddle: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” If he failed to answer it, he would be eaten by the Sphinx.
For Oedipus there was much at stake. Here is his answer: “Man, who crawls as a child, walks upright in his prime, and uses a cane in the old age.” This answer saved his life and also earned him fame and even a kingdom.
The Sphinx challenged the passers by with riddles. Most of the travellers were not able to give the correct answer, thus she probably did not starve. Upon hearing Oedipus’ answer, she was so shocked that she threw herself from a cliff top.
1. When is it a good time to lose your temper?
2. What do you call opera haters?
3. What’s the largest room in the world?
4. What did the beach say when the tide came in?
5. Where can you always find happiness?
6. What did one potato chip say to another?
7. Why does the ocean get angry?
8. What famous dance music did Charles Dickens write?
9. When is it easy to read in the woods?
10. What did the January calendar girl say to the February calendar girl?
11. What asks no questions, but requires many answers?
Here are the answers. What are the questions?
- The sphinx was a a female monster.
- They had to solve riddles.
- She ate them.
- He gave the correct answer.
- She flung herself from the cliff.
- It earned him a kingdom.
- Because she will not bother anyone anymore.
- Translate four of the riddles above and their answers.
- Translate a Norwegian riddle you know or one you make up into English. Make the necessary twist to make it funny.
- Were your riddles funny when they were translated? Why or why not?
- What is required if a riddle is going to make us laugh? How important is the wording?
- Why have riddles always fascinated people?
Choose two of the riddles above and make matching illustrations. You may e.g. use clip art or print "funny illustrations" in google.com or flickr.com