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riddles


“Many riddles are of the following kind:

I saw one man welding bronze to another man with fire, so tightly as to make them common blood.

CURFRAG.tlg-0244.1
The answer to this is ‘the applying of a cupping-glass.’1

Athenaeus Doctors at Dinner

“I will turn to the arts and poetry. In the writing of tragedy and in painting, whoever is most deceptive in making things like the truth is the best. I propose to cite some poems too of the more ancient authorities: Cleobulina: —

I saw a man steal and cheat perforce, and to do this perforce was most righteous.2

CURFRAG.tlg-0244.2
Anonymous Writer in Diels' Vorsokratiker [on right and wrong]

“‘Quite so’ replied Anacharsis; ‘and because they understand human speech and are not like the Greeks who think that they converse so much better than the Scythians and yet believe that the Gods listen with greater pleasure to bones and sticks.’ ‘May I inform you,’ exclaimed Aesop, ‘that the flutemakers of the present day have discarded the leg-bones of fawns for those of asses, and declare that they thereby improve the sound?’ And that is why Cleobulina made the following Riddle on the Phrygian flute:

A dead ass boxed my ear with his horned shin-bone;

CURFRAG.tlg-0244.3
to make us wonder that a beast otherwise so stupid and unmusical as the ass should furnish the finest and most musical of all bones.

Plutarch Seven Sages [the Scythians]

1 cf. Plut. Pyth. Or. 14 Sept. Sap. 10, Arist. Rh. 1405a. 35, Poet. 1458 a. 26, Demetr. Eloc. 102, Rh. Gr. 6. 200, 7. 949 W

2 the answer is prob. ‘a man stealing a dagger from a madman’; cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. 1134 a. 17 ff and Sch. ( Hermes 5. 81, 82)

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