The riddle game, which is a contest of knowledge and reasoning, appears in many famous writings. Each person takes turns asking a question. The first one who can't come up with the right answer is the loser. One of the more recent riddle games occurs during the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
, while one of the oldest is Sophocles' Riddle of the Sphinx in Oedipus the King
. You'll also find riddles in Rumpelstiltskin
and Die Hard with a Vengeance
. (Well, okay — that last one is actually a movie, but the riddle scene is really, really nerve-wracking!)
In The Hobbit, Bilbo and Gollum test their wits. If Bilbo wins, then Gollum has to show him the way out of a tunnel; if Bilbo loses, he becomes Gollum's dinner. Yum.
Can you guess the answers to Gollum's riddles?
What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
Up, up it goes,
And yet never grows?
Voiceless it cries,
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes out first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.
This thing all things devours;
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats mountain down.
Answers: (1) mountain, (2) wind, (3) dark, (4) fish, (5) time
Obviously, Bilbo wins and Gollum misses out on a delicious meal — otherwise, we wouldn't have The Lord of the Rings trilogy. What was Bilbo's winning question? What have I got in my pocket? Sneaky question! Bilbo had the Ring in his pocket.