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Can you solve these Byzantine riddles?

Here are five riddles written in the eleventh-century. Can you answer them?

Christopher de Mytilene and John Mauropous both lived in the Byzantine empire during the eleventh-century. The worked as poets and writers, and gained a measure of fame during their careers. Their works have recently been edited and translated, and it shows they had a wide variety of interests. A few riddles were included in this collection, and we offer five of them to see if you can guess what the answers were.

The Poems of Christopher of Mytilene and John Mauropous, edited and translated by Floris Bernard and Christopher Livanos, contains nearly 250 of their poems, which range from the deeply religious to the comedic. One of our favourites in ‘On the Bath’ by Christopher of Mytilene:

Truly the bath is a delightful thing,
comforting the body and washing off the dirt,
soothing all parts of the flesh,
and seeming to remake all limbs anew.
It gives wings to the mind, expels every burden,
and scatters all the fog that clouds the brain.
If you think about it – it also brings joy,
for nature truly rejoices in those washed clean.

This book is published by Harvard University Press as part of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. Learn more about it from the publisher’s website or buy it on Amazon.com.

See also: Can you Solve these 10 Medieval Riddles?

Top Image: 11th century Plaque with Saint Peter made in Byzantium, now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art



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