One of the most famous anagrams of all time was constructed in the Middle
Ages. The unknown author contrived it as a Latin dialogue between Pilate and Jesus.
Jesus' answer to Pilate's question "What is truth" is phrased as an
ingenious anagram of the letters of that very question: Pilate: Quid est veritas?
("What is truth?") Jesus: Est virqui adest. ("It is the man before
The origin of anagrams is shrouded in mystery. One
thing is clear, however -- in the ancient world, they were thought to contain hidden
messages from the gods. Legend has it that even Alexander the Great (356--323 b.c.)
believed in their prophetic power.
-- from Chapter
The most obvious explanation for the popularity of puzzles is
that they provide a form of constructive entertainment. But in The Puzzle Instinct
Marcel Danesi contends that the fascination with puzzles throughout the ages
suggests something much more profound. Puzzles serve a deeply embedded need in
people to make sense of things. Emerging at the same time in human history as myth,
magic, and the occult arts, the puzzle instinct, he claims, led to discoveries in
mathematics and science, as well as revolutions in philosophical
Puzzles fill an existential void by providing
"small-scale experiences of the large-scale questions that Life poses. The
puzzle instinct is, arguably, as intrinsic to human nature as is humor, language,
art, music, and all the other creative faculties that distinguish humanity from all