Firstly, idea blatantly stolen from This great puzzle by Rand al'Thor

I was preparing Exams for my students last night, and my wife offered to make some fun riddles to use as Extra Credit. I had five different versions of the exam, so I needed five different riddles to go along with them, but that might seem similar enough to not immediately arouse suspicion.

My wife told me that everything would be fine, and to leave things to her. I continued putting together the rest of the exam and went to bed. When I awoke, she had already left to teach her morning class, my exams were strewn all over the floor, as well as hundreds of little slips of paper. There was also a sticky note attached to the cat-

"Here you go honey, five equal riddles for five exams. Each one representing a significant event in the conflict in which they occurred. Pity we're out of tape, I'll pick some up at the store this evening. I love you!"

The cat must have destroyed the riddles, I always knew we should have gotten a dog... Can you help me put the pieces back together before the exams this evening?

The pieces are as follows, although I haven't yet determined the relative frequencies:

An Empire was born
In a large wooden construct
Against Teutonic foes
The city, she fell
Ignoring an order
I was somewhere in France
Then the battle was won
I waited for darkness
I crossed the salt waters
And I crossed the river

At a rough estimate, there are about 5 times the number of slips floating around as I had exams, I'm still trying to get them somewhat organized.

After some counting, it appears as if every slip is used in at least two riddles. Additionally, I've phoned my wife and she's said

The riddles are as much about the Historical Figure doing the speaking as about the event itself, although in all scenarios both were covered in the exam.

The class is named "History of Western Civilization: 2,000 B.C.E. To 1850 C.E.


2 Answers 2


Since there are about 5 times as many slips as exams, it's likely that there are five 5-line riddles here, constructed using each of the 10 given lines an unknown number of times.

Firstly, "In a large wooden construct" can only refer to

the Wooden Horse and the Fall of Troy, a "significant event" in the Trojan War. The full riddle in this case could be:

[first line?]
I waited for darkness
In a large wooden construct
Then the battle was won:
The city, she fell.

The line "And I crossed the river" makes me think of

crossing the Rubicon, a significant event in Caesar's Civil War. The full riddle (with thanks to @MariaDeleva for some help constructing it) could be:

And I crossed the river,
Ignoring an order.
Then the battle was won;
The city, she fell;
An Empire was born.

Lines such as "I was somewhere in France" and "Against Teutonic foes" might refer to

D-Day and the Normandy landings, a significant event in the Second World War. The reconstructed riddle here is probably:

I waited for darkness,
I crossed the salt waters.
I was somewhere in France,
Then the battle was won
Against Teutonic foes.

Another way to use "I was somewhere in France" and "I crossed the salt waters" could be for

the Battle of Hastings, a significant event in the Norman Invasion of England. The full riddle in this case could be:

I was somewhere in France,
I crossed the salt waters
In a large wooden construct,
Then the battle was won.
[last line?]

(marcoresk also came up with this verse in his answer, but I posted it in chat first.)

Another usage of "An Empire was born" might be in reference to

the French Emperor Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars. The riddle here might also involve the line "I was somewhere in France" and maybe (again) "Against Teutonic foes".

  • $\begingroup$ All the slips have been found, they just haven't all been categorized to provide relative counts $\endgroup$
    – Sconibulus
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Sconibulus OK, I misunderstood. Edited. $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2016 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ seeing as absolutely none of the remaining lines fit with Troy, perhaps each riddle is only 4 lines each? $\endgroup$
    – JMP
    Sep 28, 2016 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ @JonMarkPerry The final paragraph of the question suggests they're 5 lines each. $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2016 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ it's probably poetry then: ' I waited for darkness, In a large wooden construct, i waited for darkness,Then the battle was won:The city, she fell. because i checked it out, no empires were formed before or after, the only notable after-event was the drowning of almost the entire army by the Gods., $\endgroup$
    – JMP
    Sep 28, 2016 at 21:35

I try to add another riddle after reading rand al'thor's solutions

I was somewhere in France
I crossed the salt waters
in a large wooden construct,
then the battle was won
against Teutonic foes It may refers to the Hasting's Battle (1066) when William the Conqueror crossed the sea from "France" to England, defeated the saxon King Harold. Saxons could be intended as "teutonic". The large wooden construct is, obviously, a ship (many ships!).


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