Solution: When In Rome...

Teams had been told that they might need to use Caesar cipher. The "When In Rome…" title and the obviously ciphered text is supposed to hint at the need to use Caesar cipher. Although each line is shifted by a different amount, the plaintext is:

  • Beware the ides XIX of March.
  • Et tu, Brute?- Then fall VIII, Caesar!
  • but for IX mine own part, it was Greek to me.
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me VI your ears!
  • Cassius has a XX lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.
  • Cry, “Havoc!” and let slip the I dogs of war
  • For Brutus is an honourable man; So are XIII they all, all honourable men
  • Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but XV once.
  • Not that I loved XXI Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.
  • As he was valiant, I honor him; but XIV as he was ambitious, I slew him.
  • Nature XX might stand up and say to all the world, “This was a man!”

As team began decrypt the message, they might haved noticed that each point is a famous line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and that each included an extraneous roman numeral. Either observation would have helped teams break the ciphers faster, although frequency analysis was generally enough. Converting the roman numerals to numbers and then to letters, teams read the message:


Many teams found this ambiguous, but the shift amount refers to the amount that the quotes had been shifted to produce the ciphered text. Looking at the first letter:

  • B —> V = 20 = T
  • E —> M = 8 = H
  • B —> G = 5 = E
  • F —> S = 13 = M
  • C —> D = 1 = A
  • C —> L = 9 = I
  • F —> T = 14 = N
  • C —> T = 17 = Q
  • N —> I = 21 = U
  • A —> B = 1 = A
  • N —> R = 4 = D

or The Main Quad at Stanford University.


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