Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Question Master Is Always Right - Part Three

Religion, the Bible, Mythology and the classical world

Religion, the Bible, and Mythology is an ever popular subject for quiz setters. Its also a subject with huge scope for getting it wrong. Confusion over which names are Greek , and which are Roman alone is enough to keep you supplied with wrong’uns for months.

Norse Mythology. What name did the Vikings give to Heaven ?

If you ask it like that, this is a horrible question. The normal answer given to this question is

Now, in Norse mythology Valhalla ( literal translation Hall of the slain ) was situated in the heavens. But Valhalla was only part of the Norse heavens. It was the building where the souls of men slain in battle were taken by the valkyries, and it formed one part of the home of the Gods. However the whole of the home of the Gods, which is the closest idea that the pagan Norse had to Heaven, was called
Asgard ( or Asgarth )

This is far more accurate.

Advice :- If the answer you want them to give is Valhalla, then make sure you mention that it’s the place where the souls of dead warriors went, then there’s no confusion.
If you want Asgard as the answer – then ask what the Vikings called heaven, which contained Valhalla.

Norse Mythology. What did the Vikings call the Underworld ?

This is similar to the previous question. Except that the usual answer – which is again
is totally wrong. The dead souls of the ordinary Joe and Josephine Public were sent down to a place presided over by the Goddess Hel – which is where we get the word Hell from. However this is not the correct answer. The correct answer is
Niflheim ( pronounced Niffle-hime )

and anything else is wrong.
Advice: - Only ask this one if you are looking for a particularly hard question, and when you ask it say ‘Valhalla is NOT the answer ‘

Greeks and Romans. Who was who ?

Greek Roman Gods were pretty much equivalent, and yet they had different names. If you’re asked :-
Who was the king of the Gods in Greek Mythology ? –

then some of the time the answer given will be :-

This is wrong. Jupiter was the Roman one.
Advice : - It doesn’t take a lot to spell it out clearly what you want. If you want the Roman name, then give them the Greek one in the question, or vice versa.

The Seven Wonders of the World

Whose temple at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World ?

Oh dear. This is a prime example of a question which requires you to play the man not the ball. Ask yourself - is your question master the type of person to say

If that's the answer he gives, I'm sorry, but he's wrong. Ephesus, though in modern Turkey, was part of the Greek Hellenic world when the temple was built, and they built it to worship

Now, I grant you that Diana is the roman equivalent of Artemis. But does your question master know that ? If he doesn't , then he may have Diana, and you'll get nothing for putting Artemis.
Advice: It doesn't take much effort to get it right. The answer is Artemis - but allow Diana.

Whose Temple at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the World ?

Almost a carbon copy of the previous question. Olympia was and is still in Greece, and they worshipped the greek Gods, not their roman equivalents. So

is , at best, inaccurate. The correct answer is

but will your question master know that ?
Advice: Look for Zeus, but allow Jupiter as well. Even better, ask it like this : -
The temple at Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the world , was dedicated to which God, whose roman equivalent is Jupiter ?

Which of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World are situated in Greece/Turkey ?

That's an unanswerable question in the way that its been asked. Two of the wonders in Turkey today - The Temple of Artemis - , and the Mausoleum were actually in what was Greece when they were built. So is that Greece or Turkey ?

Advice: Make it clear in the question . Ask - which of the 7 wonders of the world are to be found in modern day Greece/Turkey.

Who was responsible for Santa Claus being depicted with a red suit ?

I'll bet you always thought that this was
Coca Cola

So did every question master who has ever asked the question. The fact is that in the USA, depictions of Santa Claus through the 20s had settled on red for the standard colour of Santa's robes, and this was ten years before the first time that Santa was used in a coke advert.
Advice : - there's no alternative answer, but its a wrong'un, I'm afraid.

There is a certain type , a certain sub genre of wrong'uns which I like to think of as the "name a hairy dog " questions. This name comes from the old Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer spoof game/quiz show, which used to end with a quick fire round of questions such as -
"Name a hairy Dog ?"
"Old English Sheepdog "
"No, I'm sorry, it was an alsatian."
These are questions where the question master implies that there is only one correct answer - when in fact there are several possibilities, and unless you can read his mind, there's no guarantee that yours will be the one he wants. Here are some examples.

Which animal or creature was sacred to the ancient Egyptians ?

Ninety nine times out of a hundred you can be sure that the question master will give you the answer:-

Quite right too, they were sacred in Ancient Egypt. The trouble is, so were a lot of other creatures. Egyptian society was polytheistic - worshipping many deities, and different ones were sacred to different gods. So while cats were sacred, so too were others, including :-
scarlet ibis - bull - jackal - crocodile and even dung beetle ( scarab ) .

this is to name just a few examples.
Advice - if you hear the question asked in a quiz - your safest bet is to give cat as the answer. If you're the one setting the quiz, then don't ask this one unless you're prepared to qualify it - eg - In Ancient Egypt, which creatures were sacred to the goddess Bast ? ( Now that was just cats )

In the Old Testament, which wood was the Ark made from ?

There are two possible answers to this question. Remarkably, neither of these is the answer usually given by question masters. On more than one occasion the answer has been given in a quiz as
Cedars of Lebanon
This is just pure laziness, since the correct answer can be found in the Old Testament if the question master bothered to look. It was the Temple of Solomon, the first temple in Jerusalem that was built from the Cedars of Lebanon.
Still , taking it for granted that the question master has the correct answer down, you confidently jot down your answer ,
Gopher wood

Then when he tells you that the answer is

you start to become very annoyed. Yet both of you are right. Noah's Ark was built of gopher wood - it says so in the Book of Genesis , even though nobody really knows what gopher wood was. But The Ark of the Covenant was built of acacia. So you are both right - only you don't get the point for it. Why ? Because the question master has failed to specify what he wants from you.
Advice - to the Question master - say which one it is that you want - Noah's or Covenant. to the quizzer - if the question master can't or won't specify, then write down both eg - Noah's= gopher wood and Covenant = acacia.

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