The Court

The imposing marble columns and high steps of the courthouse separate this edifice from the wood and thatch shops that strew the City. You pace nervously throughout the hallowed halls in search of someone who can tell you the truth about the future of Islandia.

Most of the lawmakers and judges are busy arguing and weighing matters of import, but at last you find a courtroom empty save for a judge pondering a scroll on his desk.

“Your honor,” you address the robed figure. “Have you any certain knowledge of these omens of disaster that plague us?”

The Judge thinks for a minute, then shrugs. “I have heard only the same wild rumors you have,” she says. “We can but do what we have always done: deal with each problem as it arises and attempt to propagate justice.”

“Well, thanks,” you manage. You turn to leave, but your curiosity gets the better of you. “What is that you’re studying, if I may ask?”

“A possible miscarriage of justice,” answers the Judge.

Three men were brought before the court on a charge of treason. We knew that one of them was a spy, but we couldn’t be sure which.

It was a closed trial, which means that there was only a judge present and no jury. Now the widow of the executed man claims that her husband was innocent and demands 10,000 obols compensation.

It is a most serious charge, and unfortunately the facts of the matter are far from clear. The judge in that case has passed on, and the other two defendants cannot be found. I am trying to reconstruct the case from the judge’s notes, which are … meager.

You’re sorry you asked. “Thanks for the explanation,” you start to say, but the judge is getting into it now.

“All we know for certain is that one of the three men was a pathological liar, incapable of telling the truth. The second, in exact opposition, was perfectly honest. The third man was normal—he lied or told the truth as he saw fit.”

“I’m sure he did,” you say. “But I really must be—”

“It’s a knotty problem,” the Judge continues. “And it’s taking up far too much of my time. I’d give three obols to the lawyer who could figure this all out for me.”

“Let’s hear the details,” you say.

Each defendant made a statement. Xerxes either said that Zeno was the liar or said that Zeno was the spy. I can’t tell which from these notes.

Yehudi either said that Xerxes was honest, or said that Xerxes was the liar, or said that Xerxes was the spy. Not much help there.

And Zeno either said that Yehudi was honest, or said that Yehudi was the liar, or said that Yehudi was the spy.

Having heard those three statements, the judge decided which man was the spy. The notes are so threadbare because (as the last note points out) the judge noticed that it was possible to figure out who the spy was just knowing what Xerxes said, along with the uncertain statements from the other two.

One of my hot-shot aides said that actually, you could figure out the spy’s identity just from the judge’s notes. I took him at his word and let him go on vacation. Now I’m stuck. Any ideas?

Name the spy by submitting a solution

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