4 ways to solve this, and solve all four to get an accept


A city of two-fifths the U.S., but vaguely known

A city of wisdom, But defeated by brutes

A city of a painting, a school of thinkers.

Enigmatic stuff:

Virto estas forta kiam kunigitaj

Umodzi, ntchito, wakutemwa

Li dejjem Konxja ta 'Alla Aħna jaspiraw, Ibni u bil-Quddiem bħala poplu wieħed

Uharteak bezala-bezala-Sultan

Galutinis vainikuoja darbą

Once you have solved the 1st 2, come and solve this one! (hint: 1st 2 answers needed.)



Yet Another Riddle:

To solve me

You must first disintegrate me

First I am one off of female

The link of she and her

Next I am a device

One which is used in fall

Or can be used do describe claws

Finally I am the king

One of golden birth

The fiercest of them all

Now string them together

to get what city?

  • $\begingroup$ The title says "what country" and the last line of the final riddle says "what city". Are both of those as intended, bleh? $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ "A city of two-fifths the U.S., but vaguely known". The city is in the US or its size/population is two-fifths of the US?? $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ I assume it means something like "2/5 of US states have a town or city of that name". $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan the last riddle goes to a city, and the whole thing relates to a country $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ OK. So "4 ways to solve this" doesn't really mean what it says? It's actually "4 things all of which need solving to solve this"? $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


I'm pretty sure the country we're looking for is


First riddle

I don't think I have all the references but I think this refers to

Athens. There are 22 Athenses in the US, though most are rather small; it produced a lot of philosophers in ancient times, and was defeated by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War; I think the painting/school line refers to this.

Enigmatic stuff

Google Translate renders these into English thus:

Virtue is stronger when united (Esperanto)
One, work, love of (Chichewa)
Always aware of God We aspire, Build and Advance as one people (Maltese)
Islands like-as-Sultan (Basque)
The final icing on the cake (Lithuanian)

and various people in the comments have improved the translations and/or identified them as national mottoes:

Andorra: Virtus unita fortior (virtue united is stronger); translated into Esperanto
Rwanda: Ubumwe, Umurimo, Gukunda Igihugu (unity, work, patriotism); translated into Chichewa
Grenada: Ever conscious of God we aspire, build and advance as one people; translated into Maltese
unknown: [something to do with islands and sultans]; translated into Basque
Seychelles: Finis coronat opus (the end crowns the work); translated into Lithuanian.


the fourth one is the motto of somewhere beginning with O (Oman would be the obvious candidate but it doesn't seem to have any such motto; nor, so far as I can tell, did the Ottoman Empire; at that point I'm running out of "O"s), yielding Argos, a city in Greece.


The distribution of the letters suggests putting A=1 etc. and interpreting pairs as hexadecimal representations of ASCII characters. The obstacles to this are (1) that there are 29 letters in the ciphertext and (2) that they include two Ls and two Zs. The Ls are OK -- just treat JKLMNO as hex digits ABCDEF -- but what about the Z? Well, in the comments M Oehm makes the excellent suggestion that Z means zero -- it always comes right after a B, making BZ=20=space.

Having an odd number of characters feels like a fatal obstacle, but in fact the questioner has confirmed that the ASCII interpretation is correct. Perhaps at some point it will become clear why a letter is missing. (Note added later -- see spoilered text below for more details --: actually it looks as if we have an extra letter, not a missing letter.)

Anyway, we have EDDADLEGDFBZECDLDFEDEFGBZDCDI which yields 54414C574620534C4654567204349, which yields these obvious pairs: 54 41 4C 57 46 20 53 4C 46 54 56 7 20 43 49 so if we're just missing a single letter it had better be a D or E before that second G. ASCII-decoding yields TALWF_SLFTV?_CI where underscores are spaces and ? is either G or W.

So now all we need to do is to crack the cipher. We don't have much to work on so it had better be a simple one. It isn't a Caesar (no shift yields anything that makes sense). We're told that the first two answers are needed; perhaps we should use them as a Vigenere key or something. Well,

using ATHENSARGOS as key yields either THESSALONHECP or THESSALONHOCP, depending on whether the missing letter is D (-> G) or E (-> W). Clearly this is going to be THESSALONIKI or perhaps THESSALONIKE, and clearly either (1) we need two extra letters of key from somewhere or (2) something other than a missing letter has happened to the ciphertext.


suppose we just delete the mysterious G instead of trying to turn it into an extra letter, and de-Vigenere. Aha, then we get THESSALONHKI which is very nearly right. The H-that-should-be-I is in the position corresponding to the unconfirmed O of ARGOS. For de-Vigenere-ing to yield an I instead we'd need ARGNS, but that doesn't seem like it makes any sense (it's not a Greek city any more). But if the surplus letter is not the second G but the F that precedes it, then we get THESSALONIKI. I think I can believe that.

The big remaining question is

why there's an extra F in the ciphertext. I have no good explanation for that yet.

Second riddle

I'm pretty sure this is

another Greek city, Heraklion, split up as He/rak/lion. "He" is "she" without its first letter and the common part of "she" and "her"; "rak" should presumably be understood as "rake" (an implement used in the fall or autumn; something claws can do); and the lion is commonly called the king of animals and is indeed fierce.

What's missing

So we've got almost everything at this point. What remains unexplained? In order of appearance:

It's not perfectly clear why "but vaguely known" (perhaps just because most of the Athenses aren't big famous cities). We haven't identified the fourth motto, though Oman is a semi-plausible candidate. We don't know why there's an extra F in the ciphertext. And in the final riddle I'm not altogether satisfied by "he" as "one off of female" nor by "rake" in place of "rak", and I'm not exactly sure why a lion is "of golden birth".

Of these,

the only things that are definitely holes in the answer (rather than places where the question is a little vague or my understanding a little fuzzy) are the O of Argos, and the extra F.

  • $\begingroup$ Lithuanian sounds wrong $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 2:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MOehm The Maltese one is Grenada's (in English). $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 15:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are a whole lot of mottos that mention "unity" and "work", but I think Rwanda has the best match for the third word: "patriotism". $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 15:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The first one is Andorra. $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 15:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Your decoding idea isn't bad. Z could be zero: It occurs twice and each time after B, which would yield the space character (#20). If we assume that the rest must be uppercase letters, which start with D or E, there must be an omission between F and G, where either a D ("G") or an E ("W") goes. That yields "TALWF SLFTV(G|W) CI", which still has to be made sense of. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 18:43

Community Evidence Locker

A city two-fifths of the US:

OP changed from "half" to "2/5". A later comment clarifies it to emphasize about 2/5. We know it is NOT Clinton, Franklin, Washington, Madison, Marion, Jackson, Jefferson, Springfield, Greenville, Salem, Troy, Lexington, Monroe, Chester, Arlington, Lebanon, Ashland, Canton, Oxford, or Mount Vernon.

A city of wisdom, but defeated by brutes:

Alexandria? Athens?

A city of a painting, a school of thinkers:

Maybe Paris... (The MonaLisa painting)

  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure i counted correctly on the 1/2 of the states but its noton there $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ @bleh uh oh. Hmmm, I better check my sources. $\endgroup$
    – axavio
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ Ok I miscounted $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 3:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's around 2/5 so dont go exactly 20. of around two-fifths doesnt sound right. $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ Go with more cities- still not on there. But it is on the answer.... $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 21:42

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