In classic mythology, there is the story of the Sphinx, a monster with the body of a lion and the upper part of a woman.
The Sphinx lay crouched on the top of a rock along the highroad to the city of Thebes, and stopped all travellers passing by, proposing to them a riddle.
Those who failed to answer the riddle correctly were killed.
This is the riddle the Sphinx asked the travellers: "What animal walks on four legs in the morning, two legs during the day, and three legs in the evening?"

This is part of the story of Oedipus, who replied to the Sphinx, "Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in manhood walks erect, and in old age with the aid of a staff."
Morning, day and night are representative of the stages of life.
The Sphinx was so mortified at the solving of her riddle that she cast herself down from the rock and perished.

In a far away land, it was known that if you drank poison, the only way to save yourself is to drink a stronger poison, which neutralizes the weaker poison.
The king that ruled the land wanted to make sure that he possessed the strongest poison in the kingdom, in order to ensure his survival, in any situation. So the king called the kingdom's pharmacist and the kingdom's treasurer, he gave each a week to make the strongest poison. Then, each would drink the other one's poison, then his own, and the one that will survive, will be the one that had the stronger poison. The pharmacist went straight to work, but the treasurer knew he had no chance, for the pharmacist was much more experienced in this field, so instead, he made up a plan to survive and make sure the pharmacist dies.
On the last day the pharmacist suddenly realized that the treasurer would know he had no chance, so he must have a plan. After a little thought, the pharmacist realized what the treasurer's plan must be, and he concocted a counter plan, to make sure he survives and the treasurer dies. When the time came, the king summoned both of them. They drank the poisons as planned, and the treasurer died, the pharmacist survived, and the king didn't get what he wanted. What exactly happened there?

The treasurer's plan was to drink a weak poison prior to the meeting with the king, and then he would drink the pharmacist's strong poison, which would neutralize the weak poison. As his own poison he would bring water, which will have no effect on him, but the pharmacist who would drink the water, and then his poison would surely die. When the pharmacist figured out this plan, he decided to bring water as well. So the treasurer who drank poison earlier, drank the pharmacist's water, then his own water, and died of the poison he drank before. The pharmacist would drink only water, so nothing will happen to him. And because both of them brought the king water, he didn't get a strong poison like he wanted.

In olden days you are a clever thief charged with treason against the king and sentenced to death.
But the king decides to be a little lenient and lets you choose your own way to die.
What way should you choose?
Remember, you're clever!

A women walks into a bank to cash out her check.
By mistake the bank teller gives her dollar amount in change, and her cent amount in dollars.
On the way home she spends 5 cents, and then suddenly she notices that she has twice the amount of her check.
How much was her check amount?

The check was for dollars 31.63.
The bank teller gave her dollars 63.31
She spent .05, and then she had dollars 63.26, which is twice the check.
Let x be the dolars of the check, and y be the cent.
The check was for 100x + y cent
He was given 100y + x cent
Also
100y + x - 5 = 2(100x + y)
Expanding this out and rearranging, we find:
98y = 199x + 5
Which doesn't look like enough information to solve the problem except that x and y must be whole numbers, so:
199x ≡ -5 (mod 98)
98*2*x + 3x ≡ -5 (mod 98)
3x ≡ -5 ≡ 93 (mod 98)
This quickly leads to x = 31 and then y = 63
Alternative solution by substitution:
98y = 199x + 5
y = (199x + 5)/98 = 2x + (3x + 5)/98
Since x and y are whole numbers, so must be (3x + 5)/98.
Call it z = (3x+5)/98
so 98z = 3x + 5, or 3x = 98z - 5 or x = (98z - 5)/3
or x = 32z-1 + (2z-2)/3.
Since everything is a whole number, so must be (2z-2)/3.
Call it w = (2z-2)/3, so 3w = 2z-2 so z = (3w+2)/2 or
z = w + 1 + w/2. So w/2 must be whole, or w must be even.
So try w = 2. Then z = 4. Then x = 129. Then y = 262.
if you decrease y by 199 and x by 98, the answer is the same:
y = 63 and x = 31.

Create a number using only the digits 4,4,3,3,2,2,1 and 1.
So I can only be eight digits.
You have to make sure the ones are separated by one digit, the twos are separated by two digits the threes are separated with three digits and the fours are separated by four digits.

You have 25 horses. When they race, each horse runs at a different, constant pace. A horse will always run at the same pace no matter how many times it races.
You want to figure out which are your 3 fastest horses. You are allowed to race at most 5 horses against each other at a time. You don't have a stopwatch so all you can learn from each race is which order the horses finish in.
What is the least number of races you can conduct to figure out which 3 horses are fastest?

You need to conduct 7 races.
First, separate the horses into 5 groups of 5 horses each, and race the horses in each of these groups. Let's call these groups A, B, C, D and E, and within each group let's label them in the order they finished. So for example, in group A, A1 finished 1st, A2 finished 2nd, A3 finished 3rd, and so on.
We can rule out the bottom two finishers in each race (A4 and A5, B4 and B5, C4 and C5, D4 and D5, and E4 and E5), since we know of at least 3 horses that are faster than them (specifically, the horses that beat them in their respective races).
This table shows our remaining horses:
A1 B1 C1 D1 E1
A2 B2 C2 D2 E2
A3 B3 C3 D3 E3
For our 6th race, let's race the top finishers in each group: A1, B1, C1, D1 and E1. Let's assume that the order of finishers is: A1, B1, C1, D1, E1 (so A1 finished first, E1 finished last).
We now know that horse D1 cannot be in the top 3, because it is slower than C1, B1 and A1 (it lost to them in the 6th race). Thus, D2 and D3 can also not be in the to 3 (since they are slower than D1).
Similarly, E1, E2 and E3 cannot be in the top 3 because they are all slower than D1 (which we already know isn't in the top 3).
Let's look at our updated table, having removed these horses that can't be in the top 3:
A1 B1 C1
A2 B2 C2
A3 B3 C3
We can actually rule out a few more horses. C2 and C3 cannot be in the top 3 because they are both slower than C1 (and thus are also slower than B1 and A1). And B3 also can't be in the top 3 because it is slower than B2 and B1 (and thus is also slower than A1). So let's further update our table:
A1 B1 C1
A2 B2
A3
We actually already know that A1 is our fastest horse (since it directly or indirectly beat all the remaining horses). So now we just need to find the other two fastest horses out of A2, A3, B1, B2 and C1. So for our 7th race, we simply race these 5 horses, and the top two finishers, plus A1, are our 3 fastest horses.

There are five vowels in English language (a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y).
Easy version: Can you tell us a word contains of these 5 vowels?
Hard: Can you tell us a word contains of all these 6 vowels with y?
Very difficult: Can you tell us a word contains of all these vowels with y in their alphabetical order?

Unquestionably
In their alphabetical order:
Facetiously
Abstemiously
Adventitiously

This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching.

The letter "e", which is the most common letter in the English language, does not appear once in the long paragraph.

Pirate Pete had been captured by a Spanish general and sentenced to death by his 50-man firing squad. Pete cringed, as he knew their reputation for being the worst firing squad in the Spanish military. They were such bad shots that they would often all miss their targets and simply maim their victims, leaving them to bleed to death, as the general's tradition was to only allow one shot per man to save on ammunition. The thought of a slow painful death made Pete beg for mercy.
"Very well, I have some compassion. You may choose where the men stand when they shoot you and I will add 50 extra men to the squad to ensure someone will at least hit you. Perhaps if they stand closer they will kill you quicker, if you're lucky," snickered the general. "Oh, and just so you don't get any funny ideas, they can't stand more than 20 ft away, they must be facing you, and you must remain tied to the post in the middle of the yard. And to show I'm not totally heartless, if you aren't dead by sundown I'll release you so you can die peacefully outside the compound. I must go now but will return tomorrow and see to it that you are buried in a nice spot, though with 100 men, I doubt there will be much left of you to bury."
After giving his instructions the general left. Upon his return the next day, he found that Pete had been set free alive and well. "How could this be?" demanded the general. "It was where Pete had us stand," explained the captain of the squad.
Where did Pete tell them to stand?

Pete told them to form a circle around him. All the squad was facing in at Pete, ready to shoot, when they realized that everyone who missed would likely end up shooting another squad member. So no one dared to fire, knowing the risk. Thus at sundown he was released.

Jay escaped from jail and headed to the country. While walking along a rural road, he saw a police car speeding towards him. Jay ran toward it for a short time and then fled into the woods. Why did he run toward the car?

Jay was just starting to cross a bridge when he saw a police car. He ran toward the car to get off the bridge before running into the woods.