Here is the riddle that Snow used to save his life after the death of the dog king (in episode 9). If you can make heads or tails of it, post an argument in the comments or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org - whoever's riddle makes the most sense will be the Myths and Legends Podcast Riddlemaster, a title you can definitely put on your resume.
Here it is:
And no one dared tell King Hakon that. Then the giant Lee of Lee's Isle told his herdsman Snio to get himself the kingdom from King Hakon. So king Hakon asked Snio the news. Snio answered, "The bees are all dazed in Denmark."
Then King Hakon said, "Where did you sleep the night?"
Snio answered the king, "There where the sheep ate the wolves."
"Because the wolf was boiled and given to the sheep to drink as a cure."
"Where did you sleep the next night?"
"Where the wolf ate the cart and the horses ran off."
"How could that be?"
"Because the wolves ate the beaver-thrall, who had the wood between his legs; and the beavers who drew him, they ran away."
(According to the Annals of Lund: "He saw three beavers collecting wood, one of whom, who was called the servant, or "beaver-thrall", collapsed on the ground with his legs stuck out. The other beavers placed the wood between his legs and walked in front, dragging him along like oxen.")
"Where did you sleep the third night?" said the king.
Snio answered, "Where the mice ate the axe but not the haft."
"Because children made an axe of white cheese. The mice ate that, but not the stick the haft was made of."
Then the king asked about the news.
Then Snio answered, "The bees are all dazed."
"Then Dog is dead!"
That's it! Let me know if you can make sense of it.
One finale comment about language in the Celtic and northern societies as well tribal societies worldwide especially befor modern media. Common stories or what would be news stories of the day year or lifetime that everyone would know was used as a reference to what happening now in this case. Since I grew up with some of the more common stories
The people are shocked that
Things went backwards. (Or these days sideways.)
Things went horribly wrong.
Wolves ate him.
And dragged him away.
Because the people forgot that there dog king will acted like a dog and the wolves would be acting like wolves.
So the people are shocked.
Not so much of a riddle at the time but a modern translation of an older way of speaking.
I’m pretty sure I already posted my answer to the riddle, but I can’t find it anywhere so I figure I’ll post it again, just in case. Apologies if I’m accidentally resubmitting an answer already seen.
And no one dared tell King Hakon that. Then the giant Lee of Lee’s Isle told his herdsman Snio to get himself the kingdom from King Hakon. So king Hakon asked Snio the news. Snio answered, “The bees are all dazed in Denmark.”
Bees construct their society around their monarch, the queen bee, much as the Danish society was constructed around their monarch, in this case, the dog king. Snio is explaining that the Danes are “dazed” like bees without a monarch because they too no longer have a monarch. Additionally, some believe that this is a reference to the technique of dazing bees by coating them in sugar, meaning that Snio is saying that he brings bad news and needs to sugarcoat it. However, this is heavily debated by scholars given the lack of evidence that such a technique was used by beekeepers during this time. The former explanation seems more likely.
Then King Hakon said, “Where did you sleep the night?”
King Hakon, presumably an intelligent man, already understands what Snio is saying, but wants a head to roll, both to remind the Danish who’s really in charge, and to prevent this upstart from thinking he can outsmart Hakon. Thus, Hakon attempts to throw Snio off by asking a seemingly random question, then allowing him to take control of the conversation and trick Snio into admitting the dog king is dead. Additionally, there is some debate over whether or not asking about where one slept was another way of asking somebody to further explain what they just said, but I can’t find any reliable sources to support that argument. I thought it was still worth mentioning anyway; maybe you’ve come across this idea before?
Snio answered the king, “There where the sheep ate the wolves.”
The sheep are the Danish. Snio is allowing Hakon to think that he is thrown off by speaking relatively plainly, with the wolves being literal, at this moment, and the Danish being called sheep, an animal practically synonymous to Denmark in this time period.
“Because the wolf was boiled and given to the sheep to drink as a cure.”
Hakon pushes his (presumed) advantage, only to find Snio throw him a curve ball. The wolf is now the dog king. The boiling is a metaphor for how wolves, through domestication, became dogs. Thus, the dog king is a “boiled wolf.” The Danish (sheep) were given the dog king (boiled wolf) to lead them and, supposedly, make their lives better (a cure).
“Where did you sleep the next night?”
Hakon is thrown off by the growing difficulty and seeming randomness of the riddle, and attempts to reset the conversation to regain control of it.
“Where the wolf ate the cart and the horses ran off.”
Here, the wolf has become the literal wolves that ate the dog king (yes, this constant changing of what the wolf represents is confusing, but that was kind of the point). The dog king has now become the cart, eaten by the wolves. The Danish are now the horses, formerly bound by the cart, both positively (a cart gives horses a purpose, and the dog king, as ruler, provided a “stable” government for the Danes) and negatively (a cart is a physical burden upon horses, as having the dog king was a burden on the Danish, both through it being an insult, as well as the obvious problems of a dog being the king). With the cart gone, the horses are now free of the burden, but also the stability and structure the cart provided, much as the Danes are now free of the burden and insult of the dog king, but now have no leader.
“How could that be?”
“Because the wolves ate the beaver-thrall, who had the wood between his legs; and the beavers who drew him, they ran away.”
(According to the Annals of Lund: “He saw three beavers collecting wood, one of whom, who was called the servant, or “beaver-thrall”, collapsed on the ground with his legs stuck out. The other beavers placed the wood between his legs and walked in front, dragging him along like oxen.”)
The dog king is now the beaver thrall, with the wolves being the wolves, and the Danish being the other beavers. The dog king, again eaten by the wolves, was about as useful as a ruler as the non-working beaver-thrall when still alive. Thus, the Danes, the other beavers, had to drag him along, meaning they had to rule themselves as the dog king was useless.
“Where did you sleep the third night?” said the king.
The king, now considerably flummoxed, falls back on his plan one final time. Some argue that this was meant to be Snio’s final challenge before victory (a la the Rule of Three so frequent in Mythology and Legends), but given Hokan’s outburst at the end of the conversation, it seems more likely to me that he’s just a very confused man, in over his head, trying to hold on for the conversational control he already lost.
Snio answered, “Where the mice ate the axe but not the haft.”
The mice are the wolves which ate the dog king, who is now represented as the axe, as in the blade itself. The haft is the new representation for Denmark, which has just lost its head (of state) but is otherwise unharmed and functional, or at least as functional as an axe without a blade, or a kingdom without a king, are.
“Because children made an axe of white cheese. The mice ate that, but not the stick the haft was made of.”
Snio is now calling Hakon a child to his face, although at this point I doubt Hakon knows it, or much of anything else going on in this conversation. Because Hakon instituted an adorable, soft, small dog as king of Denmark (made an axe with a blade made of delicious, soft, white cheese), the dog king was doomed to be killed, presumably by being eaten (hence the food metaphor). Yet, again, Snio points out that Denmark, as strong and reliable as a wooden handle, was tough enough to survive.
Then the king asked about the news.
Hakon is confused, his head hurts, he thinks he may have just been insulted, and all he wants is that wine sitting in the corner of his eye. He doesn’t even remember what started this absurd conversation, so he has to ask again. (I added that first sentence to try and add some explanation and pazazz)
Then Snio answered, “The bees are all dazed.”
“Then Dog is dead!”
“Hm, what’s that? Oh, right, that’s what you said before. Sorry, my head is all mixed around, give me second. Hokan quietly contemplates this message Uh huh…ok…wait, but that means…oh man! Then Dog is dead!”
Good match, well played, Snio wins.
There is a problem with the kings line of questioning.
“Where did you sleep the night?”
“Where did you sleep the next night?”
“Where did you sleep the third night?”
The kings first question is asking snio where he slept the previous night, the next 2 questions would have to be enquiring about nights that have not yet occured.
If instead the king asked
“Where did you sleep the night?”
“Where did you sleep the previous night?”
“Where did you sleep 3 nights ago?”
The riddled answers make a little more sense.
Snio spent all 3 nights in denmark
Sheep eating wolves as a cure
The people of denmark literally eating the wolves that attacked their kingdom
The next 2 answers refer to burdens being eaten by the wolves while the burden bearers fled.
And the 3rd answer refers to something useless being eaten but the structure still remaining.
All the answers including the bees are dazed are refering to denmark, it’s people, and it’s useless, burdensome king being eaten by wolves.
Fantastic podcast, incredibly enjoyable.
I just found your podcast a few days ago and am listening up on the stories. I just reached this one and hopped out to read the riddles.
While in danger of simply stating the obvious… I think perhaps these are not riddles the king was expected to solve.
For every question the King asks Snio is offering a statement which requires an explanation because it seems impossible.
Sheep eating wolves, a wolf eating a cart, Mice eating an axe head, and the king realizes they don’t make sense yet Snio always has an explanation.
By the time Snio repeats his initial obscure statement of “the Bees are all dazed” the king is finally realizing that every answer has a more plain explanation then the way it was worded but this one is more straightforward (as was mentioned by htbrowning) that the Queen must have died which would leave bees dazed… that just leaves the confusion of how one queen dying would leave all the bees of Denmark dazed but the king deduces that the Queen is a reference to a ruler, and in this case the ruler of Denmark rather than over a hive which would be the Dog King. Therefore the Dog King must have died.
My 2 cents anyway… Thanks for the Podcasts, keep up the great work!
Do you have the dialogue in its native language somewhere? My guess would be that this bee quote is a rough translation.
“The bees are all dazed in(Insert Scandinavian country here)” reminds me of an old “spy” code that resembles a message about a dead monarch in Scandinavian lore.
My guess is that the rest of the dialogue is just jibberish.
The part about the beaver thrall with wood between his legs would make a lot of sense with regards to how a dog king would die. Given that statement alone the king might assume the dog dead because it is common for coyotes and wolves to use females in heat to draw out male dogs so that the pack may kill them away from human intervention.
“The bees are all dazed in Denmark.” Bees would be most confused by losing their queen, so the loss of a monarch is being hinted.
I have no idea why the king keeps asking about sleeping accommodations.
“There where the sheep ate the wolves.” The dog-king is the wolves and the sheep are the wolves. Here, the natural order is shown to be reversed. Sheep shouldn’t be eating wolves, and wolves shouldn’t be eating the king of Denmark.
“Because the wolf was boiled.” The king of Denmark being changed from a mighty human king to a small dog reduced the military might of the king as much as taking a wolf, killing it, and boiling it in a stew. “and given to the sheep to drink as a cure.” Hakon basically offered up the king of Denmark to be eaten by the wolves by having filled that office with a tiny dog.
“Where the wolf ate the cart and the horses ran off.” The cart is for the horses both a burden and their source of direction. The dog-king is a burden of shame for the Danes, but also their ruler.
The beaver-thrall: Here the horses are changed to a pair of beavers and the cart is changed to an third, incapacitated beaver. The third beaver is helpless just like the dog-king was against the wolves. The dog-king is more burden here and less ruler, which makes sense. After all, he was a freaking dog ruling their kingdom.
“Where the mice ate the axe, but not the haft” “Because the children made an axe of white cheese. The mice ate that, but not the stick the haft was made of.” The mice who ate the cheese are the wolves who ate the dog-king. The dog-king is the head of the axe because the king is the head of the country. The Danes are the wooden haft because they proved not as edible for the attacking wolves. The children who made the axe out of cheese, is Snio subtly mocking the king for making the head of state out of something that is so tasty to a wolf.
Snio summarises, “The bees are dazed.” Again, he points to the loss of a monarch.
Hey Jason, I sent you an email a few weeks ago (around Thanksgiving) with my answer to Snio’s riddle. I don’t know if you got it, but I can resend it if you didn’t.