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"Brilliant. This isn't magic — it's logic — a puzzle. A lot of the greatest wizards haven't got an ounce of logic, they'd be stuck in here for ever."
Hermione Granger[src]

The Potion riddle in the Underground Chambers

The potion riddle was created by Severus Snape to prevent anyone from getting the Philosopher's Stone, featured as the sixth obstacle in the Underground Chambers.[1]

Description

"Everything we need is here on this paper. Seven bottles: three are poison; two are wine; one will get us safely through the black fire and one will get us back through the purple."
Hermione Granger[src]

The clue to solving the physical riddle was written on a a roll of paper. Seven potions were aligned in front of the reader, who would be trapped between black and purple flames. The reader would have to solve the riddle to figure out the correct antidotes to pass the flames. The riddle could be considered as hard but solvable, with enough clues to lead to the right solution. Hermione Granger noted, to get past this obstacle required intelligence and logic, regardless of one's own magical ability and power.[1]

Transcript

"Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here for evermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onwards neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight."[1]

Solution

From the fourth clue, it was known the contents of the red and black bottles were the same. Since the potions that allowed the drinker to go forward or backward were unique, and from the third clue the biggest one could not be poison, red and black bottles must contain nettle wine.

From the first clue, white and green bottles, to the left of nettle wine, must contain poison.

From the second clue, white and purple bottles had different contents but neither allowed the drinker to move forward, and since the white bottle contained poison, and the two bottles containing nettle wine were known, the purple bottle must contain the potion to go back.

From the third clue, the blue bottle, the smallest, could not be the poison, so it must contain the potion to go ahead while the yellow bottle was the third bottle with poison.

Behind the scenes

Differences

Media Scene
Book Hermione solves the riddle; Harry goes through the black flames, Hermione goes through the purple flames to go get help as there is only enough potion for one of them to go through the black flames.
Film N/A
Film (Disc 2 game) The player must click on the right potion.
PC/Mac game Harry solves the riddle by watching the 6 containers move, and must select the one that has the correct potion; Harry goes through the black flames, the purple flames disappear.
PS1 game Harry has to guess which knight has the Ice Potion.
Pottermore "You must read the riddle and figure out the correct two potions."
GBC game Harry has to mix and brew the potion, solving the riddle via a game similar to Mastermind.
GBA game Harry and Hermione have to look for the four potion ingredients, scattered trough the dungeon.
LEGO Years 1-4 (desktop) N/A
LEGO Years 1-4 (handheld)
PS2/Xbox/GameCube game
Magic Awakened Harry can solve the riddle before Hermione solves it. He can either choose to go through the black flames or the purple flames; Hermione would go through the other one.

Appearances

Notes and references

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