Archetypes And Motifs In Folklore And Literature — A Handbook

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
How to Use This Bookxxv
About the Editors and Contributorsxxxi
A.Mythological Motifs
Nature of the Creator, Motif A10
The Hero Cycle, Various Motifs in A
Natalie M. Underberg
B.Mythical Animals
Mythical Animals, Motifs B0B99
Wishes, Various Motifs
E.The Dead
Ghosts and Other Revenants, Motifs E200E599
Contest Won by Deception, Motifs K0K99
S.Unnatural Cruelty
Cruel Parents, Motif S10
Susan M. Bernardo
Persecuted Wife, Motifs S410S451
Anne E. Duggan
Conception and Birth, Motifs T500T599
Anne E. Duggan
Monstrous Births, Motifs T550T557
This book was conceived with two goals in mind: to serve as an introduc-
tion for those who may not be familiar with Stith Thompsons great
Index of Folk Literature,
and to present in-depth essays on a few of the
many thousands of motifs that his work classifies. Although we have had to
limit our selection we have striven to include those we
judged to be of pri-
mary significance.
is one of the most important works in folklore
types found in folklore and literature throughout the world. The book is keyed
to Stith Thompsons
Motif-Index of Folk Literature
Simply defined, a motif is a small narrative unit recurrent in folk literature.
In his introduction, Thompson writes, Certain items in narrative keep on
being used by storytellers; they are the stuff of which tales are made . . . there
thus the novels of Dickens could be regarded as fairy tales about the babes in
the wood encountering wicked witches in protean disguises, while the focal
recurrent characters in mythology, folklore, and literature. Some of the chief
Lang, expressed a belief in the role of diffusion as well). The error of the
obvious (1908, 24). These and other early endeavors were flawed in several
the Folktale
(first revision 1928 and second revision 1961. As the present
work goes to press, the third revision (by Hans-Jrg Uther) is forthcoming).
AT 510A). A number of tale types have been the subject of monographs, most
written in German, and many written by Antti Aarne.
The classification system of the
has been likened to the Dewey
decimal system of library classification, in that the numbering scheme uses
decimal points for virtually unlimited expansion, and these numbers are
Lithuanian, Spanish, Chinese, North American Indian (Pawnee), and Es-
Thompson states that the classification system makes no assumption that
ence book devoted to them (Azzolina 1987). In 1992, Alan Dundes wrote,
Some day when (and if) comprehensive tale type indices have been com-
How to Use This Book
The organization of this book follows that of the
Specific topics
compulsion. Thus, the chapter consists largely of incidents based on certain
[and similar supernatural occurrences]
This is the most extensive group, and truly constitutes the stuff of folk and
fairy tales, with divisions for all kinds of magical transformation (such as
from a person to a different person, an animal, or object) and disenchantment;
magic objects (such as food, clothing, weapons, conveyances, and instruments);
magic powers (strength, knowledge, love induced by magic, immortality, for-
J. The Wise and the Foolish
This section was likewise originally three chaptersWisdom, Cleverness,
Foolishness. Their fundamental unity is apparent: the motivation is always
mental. The first part (wisdom) consists in large part of fable material. The
tales of cleverness and stupidity come in large measure from jest-books.
In the motifs of the previous section the attention is directed primarily to the
mental quality of the character. In K, on the contrary, primary importance is
given to action. A very large part of narrative literature deals with deceptions.
The work of thieves and rascals, deceptive captures and escapes, seductions,
adultery, disguises, and illusions constitute one of the most extensive chap-
ters in the classification.
L. Reversal of Fortune
Here appear reversals of fortune including motifs commonly associated with
rags-to-riches stories, such as L50, Victorious youngest daughter, also the
which are variants of the Cinderella tale. Other reversals of fortune include
the sections L200L299, Modesty rewarded; L300L399, Triumph of the
weak; and L400L499, Pride brought low.
M. Ordaining the Future
Deals with such definite ordaining of the future as irrevocable judgments,
bargains, promises, and oaths.
N. Chance and Fate
The large part that luck plays in narrative (and life) is shown. The capricious-
ness of luck and the personifications of fate are covered. Included are tales of
gambling as well as lucky and unlucky accidents and encounters.
the professions, or anything noteworthy in the administration of such activi-
ties as law or war. A great number of cross-references appear in this chapter.
This chapter is the least developed area of the
Q. Rewards and Punishments
Stories illustrating consequences of different actions and behaviors, for ex-
ample Murder punished, Q211; Killing an animal revenged, Q211.6; Pi-
Traits of Character
Stories designed to illustrate traits of character, both favorable (Man speaks
no evil, W24; Patience, W26) and unfavorable (Greed, W151; Stingi-
ness, W152; Jealousy, W181).
This category contains incidents whose purpose is entirely humorous. Many
cross-references to merry tales listed elsewhere are given.
Z. Miscellaneous Groups of Motifs [and symbolism]
Topics that do not have a formal entry in the
are listed here. Of
Tale types may also be prefaced merely by the word Type, for example
Type 425B.
When Thompson expanded Aarnes original work in 1928 he indicated new
types by the use of asterisks. These types were listed in a separate appendix.
Many had been found rarely or only in a single country. In the 1961 revision
Type Index
For example, KHM 14, The Three Spinning Women. In some cases, titles
of stories from KHM are the same or similar to the titles of the tale type of
which they are a version; for example, KHM 44, Godfather Death (Der
Herr Gevatter in the original), is also known as AT 332,
However, KHM 49, The Six Swans, is known by a different tale type name:
AT 451,
The Maiden Who Seeks Her Brothers.
Designates an entry in Thompsons
Motifs are classified
About the Editors and Contributors
Jane Garry
editor and researcher, is a library researcher at Yale
University libraries for the
Oxford English Dictionary.
She has coedited
and Error: An Oxford Anthology of Legal Stories
Facts About the
Worlds Languages: An Encyclopedia of the Worlds Languages, Past and Present
is a professor of folklore in the Departments of Folklore
and of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. His recent
publications include
Types of the Folktale in the Arab World:
A Demographi-
cally Oriented Approach
(2004). He is currently working on
A Motif Index for
Alf Layla wa Laylah
The Thousand Nights and a Night
D.L. Ashliman
taught folklore, mythology, German, and comparative literature
at the University of Pittsburgh for thirty-three years and was named emeritus
in 2000. He also served as a guest professor in the Departments of Compara-
tive Literature and of Folklore at the University of Augsburg, Germany. His
recent publications include an edition of
Aesops Fables
(2003) and
Folk and
Fairy Tales: A Handbook
Karen Bamford
is an associate professor of English at Mount Allison Uni-
versity, New Brunswick, Canada. She is the author of
Sexual Violence in
Jacobean Drama
(2000) and with Alexander Leggatt, coeditor of
to Teaching English Renaissance Drama
Susan M. Bernardo
is an associate professor of English at Wagner College.
Gender Reconstructions: Pornography and Perversions
in Literature and Culture.
Hande A. Birkalan
is an assistant professor of anthropology at Yeditepe Uni-
versity in Istanbul, Turkey. Her recent publications include Gecekondu Re-
Visited: A Critical Essay, in
European Journal of Turkish Studies
and The Arabian Nights in Turkish: Translations, Reception, Issues in Turk-
ish Literature,
John P. Brennan
is an associate professor of English at Indiana University
Purdue University Fort Wayne. He is the author of, most recently, The
Nightingales Forum: A Privy Council, in
Chaucer Review
significance there. She is currently researching the lives and lore of the mi-
grant Nagar community, residing in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.
Kimberly A. Nance
is an associate professor of foreign languages at Illinois
State University. Her recent publications include The Dynamic of Folklore
Mythological Motifs
Nature of the Creator
Motif A10
synthesized in Vishnu the Preserver. But he, too, is of double aspect, male
and female (Watts 1963, 88, 101). However, this does not negate other arche-
types of deity found in different cultures or myths in which the deity is de-
picted either as a male, implying fatherhood, masculinity, and aggressive-
The deity is self-created (A118) and the first being in existence prior to any
other entity. The creator is tired of solitude and therefore inaugurates the cre-
ation (A73). Creation myth is intended to show that one objective of creative
or qualities of the creator. It is said that we are created in the image of God. In
destroyer without any sense of contradiction. In Hindu myths, Krishna says,
I am the self existing in the hearts of all beings. I am the beginning, the
middle and also the end of beings (Watts 1963, 79). The ten-armed Shiva
(Motif A123.5.1), the Destroyer, is simply the opposite face of Brahma, the
Creator. In Islamic tradition, Allah is the First and the Last, and the Visible
and Invisible (Quran 57:3). About himself, allah says that he was a hidden
treasure and desired to be known; therefore he created the creation in order
to be known (Chittick 1989, 67; Maclagan 1977, 23).
The creator deity combines the attributes of visibility and invisibility si-
multaneously. However, his invisibility is more significant than his visibil-
ity. In ancient Egyptian creation myth, the sun god Ra was both visible and
invisible. Although the sun emerged from the chaos, its original form was
invisible and not known. It came into being out of itself. The unique deity,
however, was not the
sun, although it was omnipresent and the entire
earth lived, rejoiced, and flourished in its light
(el-Aswad 1997, 7080;
Sourouzian 1987, 2829). Degrees of visibility as well as of light and heat
were connected to the movements of the sun, whose different names and
forms reflected that spectrum. Atum meant the sun in the evening twilight
or he who is not during the night. Khepri meant he who becomes, de-
scribing an aspect of the rising sun. The name Khepri is related to the verb
meaning to come into being, as well as to the noun
the Word, Blake depicted Urizen as a creator whose creative activities be-
gan when he first uttered words and named things (Cantor 1984, 38).
Mans sense of self-fulfillment is thus inextricably bound up with being
true to his creatorness, which is his God-given nature. As human cre-
ator (Motif A15), man shares and participates in creating the world (Foster
1988, 177). In
a novel Mary Shelley wrote in 1818, Victor
Frankenstein, a young German student of philosophy, desires to be a creator
of life. This young man realizes that he himself is the creator as well as the
center of his own universe. He does Gods work in creating a man, but has
the devils motives: pride and the will to power (Cantor 1984, 105; Foster
1988, 183). Thus the creature is truly made in the image of his creator.
and the monster are mirror images of each other. They are the
same being, viewed in different aspects, as creator and as creature (Cantor
Berman, Morris. 1981.
The Reenchantment of the World.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Ions, Veronica. 1968.
Egyptian Mythology.
Middlesex: Hamlyn.
Jung, C.G. 1990 [1959].
The Hero Cycle
Various Motifs in A
The essential parts of the hero cycle center around the three main rites of
passage: birth, initiation, and death (Raglan 1965; van Gennep 1960). The
culture heros story begins with his miraculous or in some other way unusual
birth; he may be the offspring of a god, a man who is not his mothers hus-
band, a virgin mother, or a brother-sister or other incestuous pair. He is usu-
ally then abandoned or an attempt may be made on his life. His story typically
picks up again after he reaches puberty, at which time a sign or event marks
him as special and destined for greatness. The culture hero then undertakes a
series of adventures, quests, and/or tests during which he may slay monsters
Scholars have tried to devise the quintessential list that would account for the
major points of the hero pattern. Otto Ranks
The Myth of the Birth of the
(1959), Lord Raglans
The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama
(1956), and Joseph Campbells
The Hero with a Thousand Faces
(1956) pro-
back a generation or two (in Roman Catholic hagiography, Saint Anne, the
mother of the Virgin Mary, is said to have been barren and conceived only
after fervent prayer). Such elaborations bolster the extraordinary pedigree
of a culture hero. When the conception involves rape, incest, trickery, or
and the overwhelming passion which inspires it create or liberate a power-
ful magic force with which the hero is imbued and which drives him to
transcend normal human limitations (Cavendish 1982, 239). Thompson
traces the hero cycle in Native American mythology and legend, noting that
the motif of the heros miraculous birth is found over most of the continent,
but involves different circumstances. For example, in the Southwest the hero
is conceived through rain falling on his mother, while the theme of a preg-
the hero cycle is, at its core, really the story of a culture heros transition
Native American myth and legend, the heros short childhoodhe often grows
up in just a few daysis a widespread concept (this is related to Motif A527.1,
Culture hero precocious). The truncated childhood of the hero means that
little is narrated about the boyhood periodwhich links the Native American
hero cycle to that of Indo-European/Semitic tradition (Thompson 1977).
of the middle part of the hero cyclea recounting of the adventures and quests
that led to his rise to prominence. Type 300,
The Dragon Slayer,
for example, is
a prototypical story of the heros quest (and strikingly similar to the story of
Perseus) (Aarne and Thompson 1987; Dundes 1980, 1968).
Outside of the Indo-European/Semitic tradition, the heros adventures also
play an important part in the hero cycle. For instance, Thompson (1977) dis-
cusses Manabozho, the culture hero of the Central Woodland Native Ameri-
cans. As part of the myth, Manabozho dives for earth in floodwaters (A812,
Earth Diver), but, unlike other creation myths, this activity is one of the
culture heros many adventures rather than a central creation act. Much of
Manabozhos story concerns two common culture hero activities: vanquish-
ing monsters (A531, Culture hero (demigod) overcomes monsters) and bring-
Kluckhohn (1965) notes that the slaying of monsters theme appears in thirty-
seven out of the fifty cultures he studied: here the distribution approaches
equality save for a slightly greater frequency in North America and the Insu-
lar Pacific. . . . Thus in Bantu Africa (and beyond) a hero is born to a woman
who survives after a monster has eaten her spouse (and everyone else). The
peoplebut not his fatherand becomes chief (163).
Death, descent into the underworld, and resurrection are widespread in the
worlds tale traditions (Zolla 1981). A few examples are given below.
In Sumerian and Babylonian myth the goddess Inanna/Ishtar ventures to
the underworld to see her lover Dumuzi/Tammuz. The great Greek hero
Odysseus must go to the land of the dead in order to learn the predictions of
For an excellent discussion of the hero cycle, see Archer Taylors (1964)
classic The Biographical Pattern in Traditional Narrative.
Natalie M. Underberg
Death or Departure of the Gods
Motif A192, and Return, Motif A193
(1914), Sir James Frazer observes that because people
have created gods in their own likeness, the issue of mortality has been a
central concern in mythology. Many of the gods in world mythologies are
immortal, but some die or go away.
The dying god motif (A192) figures prominently in Norse mythology. Af-
and by the world itself sinking into the sea, the
shows that as the
For other Hawaiian gods, departure from this world is by boat over the sea
(A192.2.2). The keeper of the god Kaili, for instance, makes a canoe and
the gods of the mystery religions die (often violently), descend to the under-
Nile (Cotterell 1997, 40). He is believed to be the wise pharaoh who showed
the Egyptians how to use grain for bread. His civilizing reign as pharaoh is
Campbell, Joseph. 1973 [1949].
The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Creation Myth: Cosmogony and Cosmology
Motifs A600A899
Though worlds in creation myths are depicted as having different qualities from
those of the ordinary world, divine modes of creative acts are strikingly compa-
rable to those of human beings and include fashioning, molding, carving, weav-
ing, earth-diving, and uttering or speaking among the means of creation (A640,
Other means of creating the universe). For example, in some versions of an-
men from clay and fashions them on a potters wheel (Ions 1968, 38).
in the face of an overwhelming threat of chaos and fatal disruption. In con-
trast to a primordial universe consisting of some undifferentiated matter, nearly
all of the great creation myths share a pattern in which the ordered universe is
the state in which everything is, but so undifferentiated that nothing can be
manifest in particular: it is pure entropy, an even, indifferent distribution of
energy (Maclagan 1977, 14). According to the Heliopolitan cosmology based
BCE), there existed Nun, the primordial ocean in which the germ cells of all
things floated. Nun is unorganized chaos, nothingness, or a formless mass
without structure. It is the creator Atum who conquers chaos through the cre-
ation of the universe. By effort of his will, Atum stood up out of Nun and
rose above the water; thereupon the Sun came into being, the Light was, and
Atum, duplicated and made external to the primordial Water, took the name
tureless state of the universe constitutes the initial chaotic condition from
which order emerges. In this void there is only the bird, Nyx, that lays a
golden egg from which Eros, the god of love, is born. The shell splits into two
halves; one half becomes the Sky or Uranus, and the other becomes Earth or
cosmos from a fragment of Tiamats torn body and creates man from the
name of Jehovah, as doing the work of the creator, establishing time and
space and thus creating the world as we know it (Cantor 1984, 30).
creator Urizen does not bring the world out of nothingness, but rather estab-
A striking example of the impact of traditional mythic patterns on science
fiction is Mary Shelleys
(1818), in which as the creator of a
man Frankenstein plays the role of God (Cantor 1984, 103).
In the story, the
creature or man is created in the image of his creator in such a way that both
falls to the destructive zone of the force and abandons his past and his human-
ity. He becomes the destructive machine Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith,
representing the dark side of the force. The monster mask of Darth Vader
represents the soulless or monster force in the modern world. Darth Vader is a
robot or a bureaucrat, living not in terms of himself but in terms of an im-
posed system (Campbell with Moyers 1988, 1440). As the
Star Wars
shows, when a successful reworking of myth takes place the novel, play, or
film achieves merit and classic status.
Nature of the Creator.
Alpers, Antony. 1966.
Maori Myths and Tribal Legends.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. 1971.
Amazonian Cosmos: The Sexual and Religious Symbolism
of the Tukano
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ricoeur, Paul. 1967.
Boston: Beacon Press.
Roemer, Danielle M. 1998. Campbell, Joseph (19041987). In
Encyclopedia of Folklore and
ed. Mary Ellen Brown and Bruce A. Rosenberg. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Sourouzian, Hourig. 1987. Egyptian Religion. In Mohamed Saleh and Hourig Sourouzian,
The Egyptian Museum Cairo Official Catalogue.
Mainz, Germany: Verlag Philipp von
Stephens, Anthony. 1983.
Fight of the Gods and Giants
Motif A162.1
Websters Dictionary
(1983) defines
as a legendary manlike being of
great stature and strength and does not assign any negative attributes. In world
mythologies, however, giants are generally colossal figures of evil disposition,
enemies of gods and mortals, and frequently exhibiting an unusual trait such as
breathing fire, having multiple heads, or engaging in cannibalism.
divinities (Shurpanakha and Marichi) (D630, Transformation and disenchant-
ice-blocks, from which, in consequence of the licking, was produced Bori,
the fashioner of the world (Murray 1935, 357358).
the drink of immortality, the gods successfully subdue the giants and take
control of heaven.
realize that without
they are neither strong nor im-
mortal. The only way to regain their former powers is to please the mightiest
of deities and obtain their protection. They diligently devote themselves ei-
ther to Brahma, the Creator, or to Vishnu, the Preserver, or to Shiva, the De-
stroyer, and succeed in attaining divine boons that grant them immunity from
death in an extraordinary way. For example, Hiranyakashyapu asks Brahma:
puny race of men could ever possess the strength to hold weapon against
However, once the wish of
is granted, as a general rule, they re-
nounce their austerities and became tyrants. Often they become the masters
of the entire three worlds, inflict cruelty upon their citizens, and force men to
worship them instead of gods. During this period of oppression, the gods hold
several councils to eliminate the threat, and frequently Vishnu, the Preserver
of the world, takes incarnations, visits the three worlds, vanquishes the evil,
and restores the order of the universe.
neither day nor night), hoisting the
on his thigh (so that he is neither in
earth nor in sky) and using his claws instead of a weapon.
Another path for achieving immortality and divinity is by accumulating
merit. The
know that anyone who attains one hundred merits in accor-
dance with the Vedas can become Indra, the king of heaven and therefore
divine. When King Bali, a
(giant), conquers the three worlds with his
austerities, gods lose control over heaven. Eventually, Vishnu decides to take
incarnation as a Brahmin (learned man) and reinstate gods in heaven. When
Bali organizes a religious sacrifice to honor the Brahmins of his kingdom,
Vishnu in the form of a Vaman (dwarf) asks him for as much land as he can
cover in three paces. The moment Bali grants his wish, the Vaman assumes
through the world). In the first step he covers the heaven, in the second the
earth (F531.3.5.2, Giants mighty stride spans earths width), restoring the
King Bali the dominion of Patala,
shows that often the two share familial ties and similar aspirations and ambi-
tions. Most of their fights are directed toward gaining control over the uni-
verse. Giants do not have any allies. They primarily rely on their own resources
seek assistance from mortals, including their own incarnations, to defeat gi-
certain circumstances when gods fear defeat in war, they employ stratagems
to achieve victory.
The motif of the fight of gods and giants functions at a symbolic level, with
Doomsday (Day of Judgment)
Motif A1002
Testament, four passages are commonly known as the little Apocalypse:
Matthew 24:325, Luke 21:513, I Corinthians 15, and I Thessalonians 4:13
seals of the closed book, which reveals the mysteries they concealed. The
natural signs of the end include earthquakes, oceans filled with blood, floods,
fire, falling stars, the darkening of the sun and the moon, various plagues, and
other catastrophes (A1002.2. Signs before the Day of Judgment). These
disasters herald a war in heaven and a final battle called Armageddon, in
which good triumphs over evil. The dragon, Satan, will be bound for a thou-
year reign of peace that precedes the end of the world comes the term
millenarianism (or chiliasm), used to characterize apocalyptic faith and tone
(McIver 1999, 4; McGinn 1992, 17). After a thousand years, Satan will be
loosed. Disguising himself as Christ, this Antichrist will deceive the nations
by performing miracles in order to win converts who will worship him in-
stead of God (A1075, End of world heralded by coming of Antichrist).
Finally, the Antichrist will be defeated and the divine Christ will come again
on Doomsday to judge the living and the dead. These events and scenes are
considered significant warnings for which those of an apocalyptic bent are
always on the alert. Among the most familiar and most often cited scenes in
Doomsday. Since apocalyptic thoughts and words seem to increase in times
of political, social, physical, and even technological change and instability, it
is not surprising that millenarianism persists today. In 1997, an Associated
of many of these disciplines when he wrote, It is extraordinarily difficult, if
Confusion of Tongues
Motif A1333
myths that describe how the ancients lost their ability to understand each
others speech when one language was replaced by many. The golden age
when all peoples could communicate freely with each other and live in peace
was succeeded by the babble of tongues and strife among nations.
The main motif is listed as A1333, Confusion of tongues. Originally all
men speak same language. Because of a sin they come to speak different
languages. However, the sin is not made explicit in any of the examples
known, although in the most famous version, the Tower of Babel (C771.1,
Tabu: building too high a tower (Tower of Babel)) and F772.1, Tower of
Babel: Remarkably tall tower designed to reach sky), it can be inferred that
God destroyed the tower and confounded the language because of mans hu-
bris. The story of the Tower of Babel appears in the Old Testament, Genesis
11, when the whole earth had one language and few words. The people of
Babylon built a tower,
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of
men had built. And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people, and they
have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do;
and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come,
Although it has been impossible to prove archaeologically, scholars speculate
that there may have been a specific ziggurat at Babylon that inspired this
story. Kramer (1968, 108) confirms and corroborates the earlier work of E.A.
Speiser, who pointed to a Sumerian source in the epic tale Enmerkar and the
In addition to Jewish myth, the
lists the confusion of tongues
motif as being found in India, Ireland, Indochina (Burma), North America,
and Central America. Thompson remarks that the motif is quite prevalent
among North American Indians, especially in the West, and to a lesser extent
in the Northeast (1977, 317). It is also found in Africa in tales from the Kaffir
(South Africa), Lamba (Zambia), and Ziba (Tanzania) people (Klipple 1992,
357). The frequency with which this motif occurs in North American Indian
mythology is probably a result of the efforts of missionaries who promul-
gated stories from the Bible. Not surprisingly, the range of recorded Indian
Bible stories corresponds very closely to the range of stories the early mis-
sionaries say they emphasized: the Creation and its immediate aftermath, es-
pecially the creation of Adam and Eve and their temptation and fall; the Flood
and Noahs survival; the Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues; the
Dispersal of the Tribes; Jonah and the Whale; the Red Sea Crossing (Ramsey
1977, 447). The same explanation may account for its presence in Burma,
Central America, Africa, and India.
However, of the many citations Thompson gives for this motif in
Tales of
the North American Indians
(1929), he lists only one version (Choctaw) as
similar to the Tower of Babel. In this story, the people marvel at the sky and
sleep the winds scatter their rocks, and one morning they find they cannot
understand each other, so they scatter. The Chins of Burma tell a Babel-like
tale of their ancestors building a tower so they could reach the moon to do
away with its phases. Their action angered the spirit of the moon, who wrecked
the tower, scattering the people (Scott 1918, 266).
There are also versions of the confusion of tongues motif without the sec-
ondary motif of the tower-building. In the Kono creation myth from Guinea
(Africa), the children of the god Alatangana all speak different languages.
The god Sa caused this confusion of tongues because Alatangana eloped with
Sas daughter without his permission (Leeming and Leeming 1994, 163164).
From the Crow, a Plains Indians group, we have the story of Little Coyote, a
trickster double of the creator Old Man Coyote. Little Coyote suggests to Old
Man that he give the people different languages so that they will misunder-
stand each other and use their weapons in wars (Leeming and Leeming 1994,
64). Thus, in these two stories, people lose their universal tongue not as pun-
ishment for striving heavenward, but on the whim of an angry father-in-law in
the first case and a troublemaking trickster in the second.
Jane Garry
Klipple, May Augusta. 1992.
African Folktales with Foreign Analogues.
New York: Garland
(The Garland Folklore Library, 3). Reprint of 1938 dissertation.
Kramer, Samuel Noah. 1968. The Babel of Tongues: A Sumerian Version.
Journal of the
Origin of Pentecost
Motif A1541.6
And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to
were partially responsible for the fact that Pentecost came to be understood as
the day of the founding of the church. Still later, it was the day favored for
knighting and coronations. Throughout Christendom, the time from Easter
was Whitsuntide, from White Sunday, so called because of the many baptis-
mal robes in church on that day.
Domestic and royal celebrations of the day included hearty eating, drink-
ing, and dance. Whitsun ale festivals accompanied by ludicrous gestures and
Origins of Inequality
Motifs A1600A1699
A principal function of myths in all cultures is to explain and justify the exist-
ence of observable things and phenomena. Among these are differences in
human language, physical appearance, perceived abilities, and social posi-
tion. The resulting stories extend across a wide spectrum of style and pur-
pose. Some are presented with scriptural dignity, demanding belief and
adherence, while others are told as frivolous jokes with any serious intent
hidden behind a cloak of irony and paradox. And some combine the sublime
Rigsthula (lay of Rig), one of the most engaging stories in the
and who becomes a master of runic lore. Thus the main social divisions de-
rive from one gods extramarital cohabitation in various human households.
A widespread story within the Judeo-Christian tradition offering similar
explanations is Eves Unequal Children (AT 758; Motif A1650.1), exem-
plified by the Grimms version (KHM 180). Here God announces that he
himself will inspect Adam and Eves household. Eve, ashamed of her less
attractive children, hides them in various nooks and crannies, putting only
her good-looking offspring on display. God blesses the attractive children
with a progeny of kings, princes, counts, knights, nobles, burghers, mer-
chants, and scholars. The ugly, hidden children, however, are promised off-
spring of peasants, fishermen, smiths, tanners, weavers, shoemakers, tai-
lors, potters, teamsters, sailors, messengers, and household servants. When
Eve complains about the Lords unequal blessings, he replies, Eve, you do
not understand. It is right and necessary that the entire world should be
served by your children. If they were all princes and lords, who would plant
grain, thresh it, grind and bake it? Who would forge iron, weave cloth, build
houses, plant crops, dig ditches, and cut out and sew clothing? Each shall
stay in his own place, so that one shall support the other, and all shall be fed
like the parts of a body. Thus a rigid class structure is explained and given
a pseudo-biblical validation.
In a Tagalog analogue, The Creation Story (Cole 1916, 187188), the
first man and woman on earth have many children, and from them came all
the different races of people. However, their house soon becomes so over-
crowded that the father, in desperation, begins beating the children with a
stick, causing them to flee in all directions. Those who take refuge in rooms
within the house become chiefs. Those who conceal themselves inside the
walls become slaves. Those who hide in the fireplace become black people.
Those who run outside become free people. Those who flee to the sea disap-
pear, coming back many years later as white people. Here, unlike in the
Grimms version, social position has a racial component.
Type 758 stories are also told with an alternate ending, for example as in
the Icelandic tale The Genesis of the Hid-Folk (Arnason 1864, 1920). Here,
instead of Eves hidden children producing the lower social classes, their off-
group arrive, the water is nearly all gone, so they can only patter about in the
the world (A1611.2, Origin of Gypsies). Additional tales told by Gypsies
themselves explain why their people are scattered about the earth (Tong 1989,
3435), how they became musicians (102103), and why they do not have an
the shirt of a truly happy man. After a long search, the king finds such a man,
only to learn that this truly happy man has no possessions, not even a shirt.
Similarly, in the Greek folktale The Poor Man and the Money (Megas 1965,
no. 64; AT 754; Motif J1085.1, The happy friar becomes unhappier as he
Karlinger, Felix, and Johannes Pgl. 1995.
Mrchen aus der Karibik.
Munich: Eugen Diederichs
Lindahl, Carl, Maida Owens, and C. Rene Harvison. 1997.
Swapping Stories: Folktales from
Jackson: University of Mississippi Press.
Megas, Georgios A. 1965.
Griechische Volksmrchen.
Dsseldorf: Eugen Diederichs Verlag.
Hermaphroditism and androgyny are terms that designate the females birth-
giving capacity within a male orless frequentlythe males inseminating
capability within a female (also known as gynandry). In the context of com-
bining the procreative functions of both sexes, this aspect of being bisexual is
to be differentiated from sexual practices that may be labeled homosexuality
female sexual organs (cited from Greek and North American Navaho sources);
T578, Pregnant man (cited from Irish, Icelandic, Eskimo [Greenland], North
American Indian, and African [Basuto] sources); and T578.2, Man trans-
formed to female (human or animal) bears offspring, reported from Irish
myth (see discussion of Type 705B, below).
the emergence of life in the act of creation by a creator. In ancient Egypt,
bisexuality is associated with the earliest phases of creation: Nun (or Nu) is
chaosor the primordial waste of waters in which all creation is immanent
and is guarded by four bisexual frog- and serpent-headed deities (Ions 1968,
38). More explicitly, the god Atum seems to have been regarded as a bisexual
of androgyny. The Tao (male)the undivided unity lying behind all earthly
phenomenagives rise to the yin (female) and yang (male) principles that
signify the duality of nature. According to ancient Chinese thought, the har-
monious interaction of yin and yang in the universe and in human beings
resolves all the conflicts of nature and brings prosperity to the world (Free-
In Genesis (1:27), God creates man in his own image, male and female,
before Eve is taken from Adams body; thus Adam and the Judeo-Christian
God are androgynous. Similarly, the supreme being in American Indian cre-
male are created. The Cheyenne creation myth How the World Was Made,
for example, describes Maheo, the All Spirit, who fashions man from a rib
taken out of his right side and woman from a rib taken out of his left side. Not
only do ancient stories of the creation reveal a separation of the originally
androgynous one into two, but many also describe the halves as thereafter
striving unceasingly to reunite, to restore the primal state of wholeness.
In contemporary lore, expressions of hermaphroditic beliefs seem to occur
predominantly in two spheres: in folk elaborations on established religious
beliefs (especially Semitic: in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and in ordi-
In the first sphere, or what may be labeled religion among the folk, is the
incongruent fact that only one male Satan (Lucifer, Eblis) was cast out of
from the inside of the well: Halt! But I drank anyway. Then, the voice
into a woman; and if he happened to be a woman, may God turn her into a
man! Lo and behold: I became a woman. I came to the town, a man married
A man (usually a hunter) gives birth to a number of children through his
knee. He places them on top of a tree and warns them not to lower a rope
with which someone can climb up to their abode, except for him. An ogre
(or a wolf or a similar predator or adversary) tricks one of the children into
lowering the rope. The ogre climbs the tree and devours the children. When
Other powerful female characters in Shakespeares works can be shown
to derive from folk tradition of that period; these include Katherine in
Taming of the Shrew
(ca. 1593), (Type 901, same title), and Portia in
Merchant of Venice
(ca. 1596), (Type 890,
A Pound of Flesh
). In many Arab
The Search for the Lost Husband
(Type 425);
Forsaken Fiance: Service [in Mans Clothing] as Menial
(Type 884);
Girl Disguised as Man is Wooed by the Queen
(Type 884A);
(Type 884B);
Girl Dressed as a Man Deceives the King
(Type 884B*);
and the new tale types:
Girl Raised as Boy Falls in Love with the Boy to Whom
Mythical Animals
Mythical Animals
Motifs B0B99
Stith Thompsons nearly exhaustive taxonomy of mythical animals in his
whose hissing drives other serpents away. In ancient and medieval times, the
bestial nature (Fox 1964, 268269). In the second period, the ani-
mal elements predominate, and Pan, the god of the pastures, is usually seen
with goats legs and a leering, sensual countenance, while the flute of reed,
the goatherds staff, and the goatskin are his common attributes (Fox 1964,
Lamias (B29.1) are sharp-clawed sphinx-like creatures with a womans
upper body who attacked men and boys and sucked their blood (Gilmore
2003, 41). In some versions of Isaiah 13.22, a lamia, along with other evil
creatures, is said to haunt the city of Babylon, laid waste by Jehovah (Rowland
1973, 115). Keats immortalizes the lamia in his poem, Lambia, about a
Corinthian youth who is seduced by a serpent woman described as a gordian
shape of dazzling hue,/Vermillion-spotted, golden, green and blue (lines
Among the most fabulous of Mythical birds (B31.1B31.1.2) is the roc, a
giant bird that can carry off people and elephants in its claws. Probably origi-
nating in Arabia and China, it is best known in the West from its appearance
Arabian Nights
The Travels of Marco Polo
(McMillan 1987, 75).
several European folktales exhibits similar prowess. In the Grimms Found-
ling, for example, a young boy is carried off by a giant bird, and in Snow
White and Rose Red, a little man is held in the talons of an eagle (1992, 189,
520521). In The Attack on the Giant Elk, an American Indian tale of the
Southwest, the hero is carried by an eagle to the giant birds nest (Thompson
1977, 339). In Hawaiian mythology, too, a great seabird carries the first man
of creation, Kumu-honua, and his wife, Lalo-honua, off into the jungle
Larger than an eagle and more graceful, the phoenix (B32B32.1.1) is a
bird that is consumed in fire, with a new phoenix arising from its ashes. It
appears in the iconography and texts of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Arab,
Russian, and Judaic traditions (Leeming 1997, 363). Although the myth of
the phoenix came to be understood in Christian literature as an allegory of
Christs resurrection, the phoenix has been used in more secular contexts as
an emblem of creative living (McMillan 1987, 75).
the griffin. According to Hesiod and Pindar, the winged horse Pegasus springs
from the gorgon Medusas blood when Perseus severs the monsters neck
(Hamilton 1998, 184185). The young Corinthian Bellerophon tries one day
to ride Pegasus to Olympus, but Zeus sends a fly to sting the horse, and
Bellerophon falls crashing back to earth. Later Zeus harnesses Pegasus in his
chariot team, to pull him across the sky as he hurls thunderbolts (McLeish
1996, 472). In Norse mythology, the flying, eight-legged steed Sleipnir car-
ries Odin through the sea and air. When Odins son Balder is killed, Hermod
rides Sleipnir to Hel to offer a ransom (MacCulloch 1964, 43). Half lion and
half eagle, the fierce and cunning griffin is the legendary guardian of vast
earth and sky, the griffin appears in heraldry, in manuscripts, and on cathedral
walls (Bartscht 1987, 8587).
The sphinx, the harpy, and the siren are the most familiar of the Bird-
men (B50B57). The sphinx (B51) has the face of a woman, the body and
tail of a lion, and the wings of a bird. A frightful monster who lies in wait for
travelers along the roads to Thebes, she propounds to those whom she seizes
subjects for art, perhaps the most famous of which is the bronze statue in the
harbor of Copenhagen. The statue commemorates the best-known of mermaid
stories, Hans Christian Andersens The Little Mermaid, in which the creature
is willing to trade her voice for legs in order to marry a prince (Andersen 1983,
5776). The merman (B8282.7), male of the species, never mates with a mer-
maid, but rather, like the creature in Matthew Arnolds The Forsaken Merman,
lures a human spouse into his cold sea-cave home only to be abandoned by her
Mythical Animals: Dragon
Motif B11
associations of it with the arch-figure of diabolical evil (B11.9, Dragon as
power of evil. So considered everywhere except in the East, where are also
found beneficent dragons). But this association of the dragon with evil came
about through mistranslations of various Hebrew words as dragon. By the
end of the Middle Ages well over 100 saints had been credited with critical
serpent (Evans 2000, 235).
The dragon figures prominently in the mythology of various Asian countries.
Early dragon stories center around creation and an attempt to preserve cre-
ation from chaos. Leeming characterizes the dragon as the most important of
Chinese mythological beasts, a positive expression of
the male prin-
represented by the phoenix (2001, 52). In
Chinese mythology, Gun created new land after the god Tiandi covered the
with magic, they keep themselves far from water and prefer the darkness
above light, even starlight (Rahn 2000, 525526). Bilbo Baggins of
The Hobbit
is a middle-aged hobbit of Middle Earth who finds himself on a journey with
a group of young dwarfs to recover the ancestral treasure from the dragon of
the Lonely Mountain. The expected outcome of folklore with the hero slaying
the dragon is subverted, and instead a minor character kills the beast. He takes
There are other legends about sea serpents that are variously described as
looking like dragons (eyewitnesses describe them as having horselike heads
atop serpentine necks), such as Chessie in Maryland and Virginia, the Loch
Smith, G. Elliot. 1919.
Evolution of Dragon.
Manchester: University Press.
The Folktale.
Berkeley: University of California Press. Orig. ed. New
York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1946.
Werner, Edward Theodore Chalmers. 1922.
Myths and Legends of China.
London: George and
Zipes, Jack, ed. 2000.
The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mythical Birds
Motif B30
Many cultures deemed birds important in their mythology, legend, and folktale
tradition, believing that they posses powers of prophecy and associating them
with gods. The roc, phoenix, and griffin are examples of such birds (Bies
2002, 1022). They are seen to possess the ability to talk, offering guidance to
humans, guarding treasures, and sending messages to gods (Jones 1995, 67;
Ingersoll 1923, 2028). Stories of these fabulous birds have parallels with
stories of the
of India, the
of Persia, the anka of Arabia and
Turkey, the
out the sun with its body and picking up elephants in its talons. It is depicted
is depicted as a bird of huge size,
large enough to carry an elephant. It has a long life span, approximately 1,700
years. At the end of its life, it burns itself and rises again. The Arabs believed
that it was a creation of God, originally a perfect bird, but that, over time,
these birds devoured all the animals on earth and started carrying off children.
People appealed to God, who prevented the
from multiplying; thus it
eventually became extinct.
There are four stories about the roc in the
The Thousand and One Nights,
involving Abd al-Rahman and two involving Sinbad (Dawood 1973) (B31.1,
Roc. A giant bird which carries off men in its claws). Sinbad sails on a com-
mercial venture from his home in Basra, and the ship stops at a very pleasant
island. Sinbad goes ashore, wanders in the lovely woods, falls asleep, and awakes
to find that the ship is gone and that he is the only person on the island. He is
until the sixteenth century. While huge like the roc, it could not fly (Ingersoll
The Arabic authors of the Middle Ages had much to say of the
known as
which supposedly lived in the Mountain Kaf, believed to
be the mother of all the mountains. No one knows where the mountain is and
what lies behind it. Ibn Battuta, an Arab traveler, encountered the stories of
the roc (Nigg 1995, 53). Marzolph argues that a huge ostrich-like bird might
have existed in historical times. The New Zealand moa bird, which became
extinct in the fourteenth century, might have contributed to the genesis of the
(Marzolph 1995, 595).
Griffins (B42, Griffin. Half lion, half eagle) are portrayed with a lions
body and an eagles head, wings, and claws. The griffin is symbolically sig-
nificant for its domination of both the earth and the sky because of its lions
body and eagles head and wings (Franklyn 1967, 4344).
In Greece, the griffin was a symbol of vigilant strength and an embodiment
Two Brothers
(AT 303); in the variants of
Amor and Psyche
(AT 425); and
also in motifs H1233.4.3, Griffin as helper on quest; A2232.4, Griffin dis-
dains to go on ark; drowned: hence extinct; N575, Griffin as guardian of
treasure; and B17.2.2, Hostile griffin (Bies 2002, 1026, 1029).
The Grimms tale of the griffin tells of the son of a farmer who goes to the
book. From
close of this period, known as the phoenix period or cycle, it makes a
The phoenix and related birds of youth figure in folk and fairy tales.
Navigatio Brendani,
was very influential in the Middle Ages and
than a Turkish bath. He is ecstatic to feel so young and gay and frisky on
arising from the ashes. The only unpleasant aspect of the wonderful transfor-
mation is the smell of burning feathers (6164). In the story The Phoenix,
by Sylvia Townsend Warner, the phoenix is caged in a zoo and subjected to
all sorts of abuse by scheming profiteers until it finally bursts into flames,
destroying the zoo and killing everyone in the area (
Storytelling Encyclope-
1997, 364). J.K. Rowling, in her Harry Potter fantasy series, portrays a
magic phoenix, Fawkes, who belongs to the sage Dumbledore. Phoenix tail
feathers are at the core of the wands of both Harry Potter and his nemesis,
Lord Voldemort, suggesting the moral ambiguity of magic and the tenuous
Nigg, Joe. 1995.
Wonder Beasts: Tales and Lore of the Phoenix, the Griffin, the Unicorn, and
the Dragon.
Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Motif B61
Leviathan is a primeval sea monstera giant fish, crocodile, or whaleof
like creature was in any way an independent deity in biblical theology
(Werblowsky and Wigoder 1997, 415).
Scholars have attempted to reconstruct the Leviathan myth by drawing
upon parallels within similar myths of the ancient Near East (Yassif 1999,
10). From such reconstructions, it is apparent that Leviathan stems from an
ancient tradition of the dragon and the sea (Day 1985, 1). Many scholars
have noted that the linguistic roots of the creatures Hebrew name
1963, 1330); the Hebrew consonants LWY are related to the Hebrew word
for coiled, twisted, writhed. Day, in fact, argues on linguistic grounds that
the Hebrew name derives from the name of the dragon in the Ugaritic Baal
cycle (Day 1985, 45).
(Werblowsky and Wigoder 1997, 415). In medieval Jewish culture, the
kabbalists found esoteric significance in the story of Leviathan, identifying
the male and female of the species with Samael and Lilith, and the great
medieval Jewish philosopher, Maimonides (11351204), suggested that the
Leviathan legends were veiled prophecies referring to future events
(Werblowsky and Wigoder 1997, 415). Yassif indicates that Jewish myths
join the typical features of the international tall tale as an integral part of
rabbinic tall tales, adding that these myths deal primarily with the world
to come (Yassif 1999,188). Among such tall tales are travelers and
seafarers face-to-face encounters with the basic themes of Jewish mythol-
ogy, providing proof of their existence: Leviathan is one such mythic
creature encountered (Yassif 1999, 189). Leviathan appears in a tale first in
The Book of Job. In
Animal Brides and Grooms:
Marriage of Person to Animal
Motif B600, and Animal Paramour, Motif B610
the second century CE, is an example of 425A,
The Monster (Animal) as
as is East of the Sun and West of the Moon, from Norway. The
familiar fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is Type 425C,
The Girl as the Bears
In these stories, a girl marries or goes to live with what she thinks is a
beast or animal who is really a god or an enchanted prince. These stories
include some sort of prohibition made by the husband often against looking
at him at a specific time, which the girl disobeys, resulting in the husbands
world. He weds her in a marriage by capture (perhaps based on actual prac-
The Snake Prince from India is a variant of AT 425A,
From Andrew Lang,
The Olive Fairy Book;
swan maiden captured by a young man who steals her plumage. Morris
drew much of his material from the Scandinavian folktales that had been
translated and presented to an eager public by Benjamin Thorpe and George
In The Sin Eater (1895), Macleod deals with the bestiality inherent in the
Indeed, several of the tales are of the MacCodrum clan of the Outer Hebrides,
known as the MacCodrums of the Seals because they claimed to be the
night (D621.1, Animal by day; man by night). When, in due time, she gives
birth to dog children, the tribe feels itself disgraced and deserts her. She is
befriended by Crow, who hides some fire for her in a clam shell (Thompson
their dog skins hanging up, and these she destroys in order to keep them in
human form (D721.3, Disenchantment by destroying skin). The story ends
happily when she and her children prosper and the tribe, which has fallen on
MacRitchie, David. 1890.
The Testimony of Tradition.
London: Kegan Paul.
Poignant, Roslyn. 1967.
Oceanic Mythology: The Myths of Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia,
London: Hamlyn.
Silver, Carole G. 1999.
Tabu: Eating and Drinking
Motifs C200C299
There are numerous tabus concerning eating and drinking; these include
tabus against eating in a certain place (C210)
all these instances). Many of these tabus are found in cultural practice and
are not merely literary devices, especially the tabus against specific foods,
such as pork (C221.1.1.5, Tabu: eating pork) and beef (C221., Tabu:
killing and cooking sacred cow).
One of the most famous eating tabus occurs in the Old Testament, in
which Adam and Eve are expressly told not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.
Tempted by a serpent, Eve eats and entices Adam to do so, and God expels
them from the Garden (A1331.1, Paradise lost because of forbidden fruit
In AT 310,
The Maiden in the Tower,
a witch confronts a man in her
garden and demands as recompense his child when it is born. In the most
well-known version, Rapunzel (KHM 12), the mans wife repeatedly asked
for and ate greens from the witchs garden (C242, Tabu: eating food of
This cha
pter f
ocuses on the tabus against eating food (C211) and drink-
ing (C262) in the otherworld, which are seemingly universal.
Dating from earliest times, the tabu against eating in the otherworld is present
in the myth and folklore of many groups and is still accepted in several cultures.
In the earliest stories, the locale is the lower world, or land of the dead (C211.2,
scene in a fairy kitchenas an old woman is chopped up and boiled for food
mean epic, fails at a chance to renew his youth because the magic plant he
was to eat is stolen by a serpent. In Taoist belief, a peach from a paradisiacal
fairyland ruled by His Wang Mu, the Chinese Queen Mother of the West, can
make one immortal (Latham 1987, 4:392). Nevertheless, myths, tales, and
popular wisdom remind us that even when there is a reward, the price is high.
Tabu: Looking
Motifs C300C399
The tabu against looking at a certain person or thing (C310) is widespread in
folklore, and the list of persons or things that must not be viewed includes a
deity, a heavenly body, a rainbow, copulating snakes, and various supernatu-
ral creatures, including ghosts, fairies, a supernatural husband or wife, and
supernatural helpers. This is only a partial list.
The looking tabu has three main scenarios: (1) A person voluntarily avoids
the sight of the tabu object because it is too fearful to behold; (2) a person is
warned not to look at a specific person or thing and ignores the warning at
great cost to himself or herself, often breaking a magic spell; (3) the viewer
receives no warning beforehand not to look at the tabu object, sees it, and
suffers a bad fate.
In a prime example of the first instance, when God appears before Moses
in the form of a burning bush, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to
look at God (Exodus 3:6) (C311.1.8, Tabu: looking at deity). In an ex-
ample from Greek myth illustrating the second scenario, Zeus warns his mor-
tal lover Semele that she must not see him in his godly manifestation, but she
insists, and the sight destroys her.
There are a number of tales in Africa that tell of the origin of death as a
consequence of looking at a forbidden thing, especially a specific act. A tale
from the Chaga tells how people used to have the ability to live forever by
shedding their skins like snakes. A god had warned that no one should ob-
serve anyone in this act, which must be performed alone, but a girl sees her
grandfather shedding his skin and then death comes to the people (Feldmann
The Greeks had a story to explain the existence of suffering in the world,
Works and Days
(seventh century BCE.).
tabu); (4) tabu broken and wife lost.
Orpheus, a great musician, charms the guardians of the underworld with
his music in order to plead with Hades to allow his dead wife, Eurydice, to
of Coventry are suffering under a heavy tax, and Lady Godiva asks her hus-
band to lessen their burden. He agrees on the condition that she ride the full
length of the town nude, clothed only in her long hair. She does so, and the
citizens are all commanded to shut their windows and stay indoors. All obey
except one (C312.1.2, Tabu: Looking at nude woman riding through town).
Peeping Tom is stricken with blindness because of his disobedience (C943,
Loss of sight for breaking tabu) (Thompson 1977, 265). The motif of Peep-
ing Tom was not added to this legend until the seventeenth century.
In Greek myth, Actaeon, too, looks upon a naked woman, although he
woman but the goddess Artemis, and although Actaeon has not been fore-
warned not to look at her, he too suffers a terrible fate for seeing her: she
Tabu: man looking at nude goddess).
From the Amazon comes a story about a young man who follows a beautiful
star up a magic palm tree to the sky world. When he hears sounds of festivity
and music, she warns him not to go see the dancing (C311.1.1, Tabu: look-
ing at ghosts). But as soon as she leaves, he cannot repress his curiosity and
goes toward the sound.
What he saw was fearful! It was a sort of dance of the dead! A crowd of
found in the ancient Greek
Tabu: Speaking
Motifs C400C499
is devoted to tabus, obedience to
which results in actions of avoidance as well as compulsion. The
lists various examples of speaking tabus, including speaking during a certain
The Grimms
Kinder- und Hausmrchen
collection includes three tales ex-
emplifying C401. In The Twelve Brothers (KHM 9), a sister who has un-
wittingly plucked twelve flowers that caused her brothers to be transformed
into ravens is told by an old woman that the only way to disenchant them is to
remain dumb for a period of seven years and if thou speakest one single
word, and only an hour of the seven years is wanting, all is in vain, and thy
brothers will be killed by the one word. The girl is later married to a king, but
does not speak or laugh. The kings mother convinces him that his wife is evil
and he finally condemns her to be burnt at the stake just as the seven years are
up. As the fire is burning, twelve ravens come flying to the spot, transform
back into her brothers, and she is able to tell her story. The Six Swans
(KHM 49) has a similar story line. The Three Black Princesses (KHM 137)
is a very different story, but incorporates the same motif in that the hero is
disenchant them if he stays a year and does not speak to them or look at them
in that period (thus this story also includes the tabu against looking at a cer-
Anthropologists have noted that the belief that ones existence is bound up in
ones name is widespread, and this is reflected in folklore. Ernst Cassirer
says, He who gains possession of the name and knows how to make use of it
has gained power over the object itself; he has made it his own with all its
energies (1957, 117). In the Danish ballad The Sword of Vengeance, the
owner of a magical sword is able to make it stop slaughtering only by calling
to it by name
(Wimberly 1965, 8990).
Child lists numerous examples from Scandinavian ballads in which war-
riors either lose their strength or receive their death blow if anyone calls out
front of their adversary (1965, 1:489)
Guessing the name of a supernatural creature gives power over it (Motif C432.1).
From Tom Tit Tot, an example of the folktale type AT 500, in Joseph Jacobs,
English Fairy Tales;
illustrated by
Odysseus craftily tells the Cyclops Polyphemos, who has
asked his name, that it is Noman. Not revealing his name saves Odysseus
from certain death later when he mortally wounds Polyphemos and other ogres,
coming to the entrance of the cave in response to Polyphemoss screams, ask
if anyone is trying to kill him. When he responds that Noman is trying to kill
turn. When he comes to collect the baby, she balks, and he tells her she may
keep the child if she can guess his name within three days. This would be an
impossible task since he does not have a conventional name, except that on
the last night he is overheard intoning his name while dancing around a fire,
and the next day she is able to name him, causing him to disappear in a fury
(C432.1, Guessing name of supernatural creature gives power over him).
In a story from the Kru of Africas Ivory Coast, a young girl goes to the
land of the dead and is given refuge by an old woman. Death discovers her
do this with the help of a bird (Werner 1925, 177178).
Puccinis opera
based on the 1762 play of the same name by
Carlo Gozzi and said to derive from a Chinese tale, contains the motif of
naming. Princess Turandot has renounced men and says she will only marry
the man who can answer three riddles successfully; those who fail will die.
Calaf succeeds, and Turnadot is so distraught that Calaf offers to forgo the
decrees that no one shall sleep until his name is discovered. In the end, how-
ever, she overcomes her aversion to the idea of marriage, and the opera has a
happy ending.
Jane Garry
Adler, Max K. 1978.
Naming and Addressing: A Sociolinguistic Study
. Hamburg: Buske.
Cassirer, Ernst. 1957.
Language: Vol. 1 of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms.
New Haven,
CT: Yale University Press.
Child, Francis James. 1965.
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.
Vol. 1. New York:
Dover. Orig. ed. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 18821898.
Smith, Sir William. 1958.
, revised by E.H. Blakeney and John
Warrington. New York: E.P. Dutton.
Thompson, Stith. 1977.
The Folktale.
Berkeley: University of California Press. Original ed.
New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1946.
Werner, Alice. 1925. African Mythology. Vol. 7 of
Mythology of All Nations
. Boston: Ar-
chaeological Institute of America.
Wimberly, Lowry Charles. 1965.
Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads
. New York:
Dover. Orig. ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1928.
Tabu: Forbidden Chambers
Motif C611
The widespread tabus against entering one forbidden place (C610, The one
forbidden place), or more specifically a forbidden chamber (C611,
Person allowed to enter all chambers of house except one),
derive from two distinct kinds of social restrictions. First, cautionary tabus
warn against physical and perceived spiritual dangers in such natural sites as
woods, mountaintops, or bodies of water, as well as places controlled or fre-
quented by potential adversaries. Second, tabus also impart awe to and pro-
tect sacred areas accessible only to consecrated individuals, for example, the
Holy of Holies section in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem.
Both types of restrictions are reflected in folktales and myths. The forbid-
den chamber motif, in particular, is found in many types of tales, and in some
types it is the nucleus of the stereotypical formulation. For instance, Marys
Child from the Grimms
Childrens and Household Tales
(KHM 3, AT 710,
Our Ladys Child
) exemplifies folktales using the forbidden chamber motif
as a religious interdiction. This story, told throughout the Catholic world and
popular even in Protestant Europe, tells how a poverty-stricken man and woman
give their daughter to the Virgin Mary for foster care. Mary takes the child to
heaven. When the girl is fourteen years old, Mary gives her keys to the thir-
teen doors of the kingdom, warning her, however, not to open the thirteenth
door. The girl cannot resist the temptation and opens the forbidden door, be-
hind which she sees the Holy Trinity seated in fire and splendor. From her
contact with this brilliance, one of her fingers turns to gold, so Mary knows
that the girl has been in the forbidden room. The girl denies her transgression
and is cast from heaven. After much travail and suffering, the heroine con-
fesses her disobedience and is forgiven.
In some Type 710 tales, the prohibition comes not from a saint but from a
demon. For example, in the Swedish tale Gray Cape (Blecher and Blecher
1993, 231234), a princess is captured by a female troll. The captive is treated
well and has full access to the trolls castle, except for one forbidden door.
Again, the heroine, unable to resist the temptation, opens the door, only to find
the troll herself on the other side. Like the heroine in the Grimms tale, she is
given a chance to redeem herself with a simple confession, but she refuses and
is cast out. And again, after much suffering, she confesses her transgression and
in the end is rewarded with marriage to a handsome prince.
The best-known European folktales featuring forbidden doors are those of
Types 311 and 312,
Three Sisters Rescued
. Type 311 tales seem to be the older
and more widespread of these two. Again, the Grimm brothers provide an ex-
emplary rendition. Their Fitchers Bird (KHM 46) opens with a sorcerer ab-
ducting a young woman and installing her as a de facto bride in his house in the
woods, where she is treated well, albeit with specific restrictions. First, she
must carry an egg at all times, with its obvious symbolism of femininity, fertil-
ity, and fragility. (In other versions she is given an apple or a flower, items with
similar symbolic possibilities.) Her second restriction is the prohibition against
to hell, and her husband then casts her into the fiery abyss. The episode re-
peats itself with a second sister, then threatens to do so with a third, but this
last sister puts her flower in a safe place before opening the fateful door, thus
enabling her to rescue her sisters and to effect her own escape.
Type 312 folktales, which also feature an execution chamber behind a for-
bidden door, differ from their Type 311 counterparts in that here the heroine
does not magically restore her sisters to life and then bring about her own
escape, but instead she is rescued in a heroic (but thoroughly nonmagical)
attack by her brothers on her captors castle. The stereotypical formulation of
this tale is Perraults Blue Beard (1697). Perraults heroine is not abducted,
but willingly marries the sinister-looking Blue Beard. She too is treated well,
but prohibited from opening one specific door. Again, she violates the tabu
and discovers a chamber filled with corpses and blood, then drops the key
into the gore. No amount of scrubbing will remove the stain from the key,
and when Blue Beard sees it he prepares to execute his disobedient wife.
However, before he can carry out the murder, her brothers storm the castle
and kill the wicked husband.
A male counterpart to the forbidden-chamber motifs discussed above can
be found in the extremely widespread folktales of Type 303, known generi-
cally as
The Blood Brothers
. The concluding episode of these stories features
a forbidden place that lures the hero to his apparent death, but in the end he is
Crane, Thomas Frederick. 1885.
Italian Popular Tales
. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. 1980.
Kinder- und Hausmrchen [KHM]
. 3 vols. Ed. Heinz Rlleke.
Stuttgart: Reclam. Based on the edition of 1857.
Perrault, Charles. 1697.
Histoires, ou contes du temps pass, avec des moralitez
. Paris: Claude
Thompson, Stith. 1974.
One Hundred Favorite Folktales
. Bloomington: Indiana University
Motifs D0D699
The very broad category of transformation is one of the most fundamental mo-
tifs in storytelling. A basic impulse in telling and listening to stories is a desire
for escape from the everyday world, and stories involving magical transforma-
tions, while providing imaginative escape for the audience, often involve literal
to avoid being caught by a pursuer (D671, Transformation flight). In the case
of voluntary transformation, the process is called shape-shifting; when one is
transformed by another, it is called enchantment or bewitchment.
In tales the world over, people shape-shift into the opposite sex (D10), a
higher or lower station in life (D20), a different race (D30), a different size
(D55), into the likeness of another person (D40), into an older person (D56.1)
or a child (D55.2.5). A handsome man can become hideous (D52.1) and an
various animals (D100D199) and objects (D200D299). The
also covers animals transforming into people (D300D399), other forms of
Thompson points out that transformation and reincarnation are related. A
person or animal or object changes its form and appears in a new guise, and
enchantment. Unlike a transformed person, however, a bewitched or en-
you must hold him unflinchingly and you must press the harder. When at
length he puts away all disguise and questions you in the shape he had when
which the girl becomes a dove, and her suitor follows her as another dove;
and he a drake; she becomes a hare, and he a hound; she becomes a mare, and
And immediately the Princess likewise came forth from the basin and she
was one live coal of flaming lowe [a blaze]; and these two, she and he,
battled for the space of an hour, until their fires entirely compassed them
about and their thick smoke filled the palace. (Burton 2001, 8384)
An example from ancient Egyptian myth involves the son of Ra, Horus,
who defends his father against plotters seeking to overthrow him. Horus
changes into a winged sun disk and flies at the enemy, routing them.
into, or disguises herself as, a seductive foreign woman, a woman of low
class, or an Outcaste woman (2001, 17).
The motif of the loathly lady (D732, Man disenchants loathsome woman by
embracing her) was popular in medieval Europe; a version was immortal-
ized by Chaucer in The Wife of Baths Tale. A knight who is under penalty
of death unless he finds the answer to the question What do women most
rare in African magic tales. Every now and then heroes as well as their an-
tagonists can change their form. When the young hunter flees from the su-
pernatural elephants he turns himself into various animals and the warthog
who wants to have a human wife becomes a handsome young man. But it is
exceptional that like in European tales a wicked person enchants heroes or
Schmidt goes on to speculate that compared to African tales, in which the
heroes tend to be killed outright by their adversaries, enchantment in Euro-
myth of the sculptor of the same name who falls in love with his statue, which
is transformed to a living woman by the goddess Aphrodite in response to
Pygmalions prayers. The play, which features the transformation of a Cock-
ney flower girl into a refined, polished young woman, was adapted as a musi-
My Fair Lady
(1956) by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner.
In the coming-of-age novel or
for example, Dickenss
David Copperfield
Flight (Magic)
Motifs D670D674
Carl Jung suggests that the flight motif is a kind of inversion of the heroic
ern Rhodesia. In the second (D671.0.2, Fugitive transformed by helper to
a Chinese tale called The Bank of the Celestial Stream, a swan maiden tale
(D361.1, Swan Maiden; F302.4.2, Fairy comes into mans power when he
steals her wings), a version that is dated to the second century BCE tells of a
fleeing wife who uses a golden hairpin to draw a line in the sky which be-
comes a long, celestial river (Eberhard 1965, 4344).
Listed under Captives and Fugitives (Escapes and Pursuits) is Motif R231,
Objects are thrown back which the pursuer
stops to pick up while the fugitive escapes. In these cases, the objects be-
come not obstacles but tempting distractions. In the myth of Atalanta, the
person throwing the objects (Melanion) is not being pursued but is engaged in
a footrace with the beautiful Atalanta. She has pledged to remain a virgin and
will only marry the man who can defeat her in a race. When Melanion prays
to Aphrodite to help him win the race, the goddess gives him three golden
apples to throw during the race. Atalanta picks them up and losses time, en-
abling Melanion to win (H331.5.1.1, Apple thrown in race with bride. Dis-
tracts girls attention, and as she stops to pick it up, suitor passes her).
Other manifestations of the Atalanta-type obstacle flight occur in the ar-
row chain stories of Coastal and Plateau tribes of North America. For ex-
ample, in a Tlingit tale (The Arrow Chain), a hero makes an arrow chain to
ascend to heaven; he rescues his friend and leaves a magic spruce cone to
answer for him while they escape. To delay the moons pursuit, the hero tosses
a piece of devils club (a shrub) that turns into a big patch of devils club, a
signed impossible tasks (such as planting, growing, and harvesting a vast crop
in all but one (313J,
The Sorceress and the Sunshine Fairy,
in which the hero
is saved by two figures, but apparently without means of a magic flight).
Subtypes A, B, and C follow the same basic plot but with different introduc-
tory or closing episodes. In the other subtypes, the magic flight is followed by
additional means of escape; for example, in 313D and E, the magic flight is
followed by transformation into a birdboth these subtypes have a specifi-
cally Central-Eastern European distribution. In 313F and G, the characters
escape in part due to the help of an animal; in 313F,
Escape by Help of Sheep,
a Polish variant, the character is aided by a sheep, while in 313G,
Three Brothers
Search for Stolen Cow,
an Icelandic variant, an owl and the hair of a cow aid
the escape. Type 313H,
Flight from the Witch,
includes both transformation
and Thompson 1987).
313) as expressing a womans efforts to break away from her natal family and
transfer her loyalty to her new husband. He writes: Ursula [the heroines name
in this version] escapes from her father by casting away items that represent her
former identity as a daughter as she develops her new identity as a wife. She
leaves her spittle and casts away her comb, which becomes a thick fog blocking
her fathers pursuit. She changes form, becoming a hermitage, and she makes
Joaqun [the heros name in this version] the priest (1990, 185).
In Type 325,
The Magician and His Pupil,
a father enrolls his son in a sorcerers
In addition, Thompson lists three more magic flight motifs: Reversed ob-
fugitives flight (from Arabic tradition); Magic flight with the help of a he-
goat (D674), in which the animal saves a girl that has been pledged to the devil
Eskimo tradition). The reversed obstacle flight figures in stories from Plateau
(Nez Perc, Wasco, and Twana), Northern Pacific (Tsimshian), Plains (Paw-
nee), and Southeast (Cherokee) Native American groups (Thompson 1929).
In general, the magic flight motif can be employed whenever a pursuer
must be evaded or at least delayed. Among its many uses, it can serve as a
boon offered by the gods in a time of trouble or provide a means of establish-
ing ones own identity during a process of individuation.
Natalie M. Underberg
Aarne, Antti, and Stith Thompson. 1987.
The Types of the Folktale.
Helsinki: Suomalainen
Daemmrich, Horst, and Ingrid Daemmrich. 1987.
Themes and Motifs in Western Literature.
Tbingen: Francke.
Dixon, Roland B. 1916. Oceanic Mythology. Vol. 9 of
The Mythology of All Races.
Archaeological Institute of America
Magic Bodily Members:
Human Eye and Hand
Motif D990
Throughout the ages, human bodily members have played significant roles in
peoples cosmological and magical belief systems and daily lives. Of the hu-
man magic bodily members, the eye and the hand have been among the most
widely spread motifs to disclose opposing power. The hand and the eye are
thought to be imbued with cosmic, magical, and psychic forces that can be
transmitted to human beings and other entities. Their widespread popularity
is based on common experience people share when they become sensitive to
been observed to differ in the signaling of communicative intent by eye gaze
(Argyle 2000). People in contemporary Arab cultures, for example, tend to
make very short eye contacts rather than gazing or staring at each other since
the hidden feelings of jealousy one might have toward another person are
reflected in the eye (el-Aswad 2002).
As an omnipotent and all-seeing power, the image of the human eye has been
(connoting the five fingers of the hand), are taken to be sym-
bols of good luck, protection, and group solidarity. In some cultures attuned
to the evil eye belief, a person who praises a child immediately reduces the
purpose of protection. The evil eye is averted by spitting (D207.1.1). In other
combinations of the iconographic elements include the eye, the hand, or both,
such as the eye-in-the-hand. The eye is believed to watch not only the visible
world as defined by culture, but also the invisible world that exists beyond
human control. For example, the all-seeing eye located above the pyramid
shown on the reverse side of the U.S. one-dollar bill suggests the importance
the living, it has its domain where it commands and from which the right
hand is excluded, but this is a dark and ill-famed region (D996.0.2.1, Magic
power of left hand for evil). The power of the left hand is always somewhat
occult and illegitimate; it inspires terror and revulsion. Thus the belief in a
found throughout literature, including the works of Francis Bacon, William
Shakespeare, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Shakespeare recognized the pow-
erful image of the eye. Using the Egyptian symbol of the eye, he conjures up
the image of the dawning sun:
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye.
Budge, E.A. Wallis. 1978.
Soothsayer (Diviner, Oracle, Etc.)
Motif D1712
connotations of the scapegoat and become victims of the concept of killing the
messenger. Weidhorn explains: The bearer of bad tidings is in some irrational,
primitive way associated with the evil events he tells about and is punished . . . as
if he has become the scapegoat and as if killing the messenger will somehow
about to undertake. He refuses to leave the knife, but compromises by giv-
ing it to a comrade to hold, but later takes it back, with tragic consequences
(D1825.1, Second sight. Power to see future happenings). The motif of
AT Type 516,
Faithful John,
Motif M302.1, Prophesying through knowledge of animal languages. The
story tells of a prince who falls in love with a princess by seeing her picture or
dreaming about her. His faithful servant overhears a conversation of birds (or
believed to command the jinn and the wind, as well as having the power to
understand the language of animals (M302.1, Prophesying through knowl-
El-Shamy, Hasan. 1995.
Folk Traditions of the Arab World: A Guide to Motif Classification.
vols. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Fiske, Amos. 1911.
The Great Epic of Israel: The Web of Myth, Legend, History, Law, Oracle,
Magic Invulnerability
Motif D1840
People around the word, from ancient times to the era of mass culture that
produced Superman, ascribe magic invulnerability to their heroes. This su-
markably strong man). Folktales of types AT 590 (
Strong John
) offer many examples. In the Norwegian
folktale The Blue Belt (Asbjrnsen and Moe 1983, 2:196210; AT 590),
the hero receives extraordinary strength by means of a magic belt (D1344,
Magic object gives invulnerability), by which he also is protected from
stones rolled on him by a troll, attacks by lions, and more. In the Grimms
The Young Giant (KHM 90; AT 650A), a small boy, nursed on a male giants
milk, becomes superhumanly strong, and he uses his strength both offen-
sively and defensively. In one episode he is sent into a well to do some work,
and his overseer attempts to kill him by dropping a millstone on him. The boy
at the bottom shouts back, Shoo the chickens away from the well. They are
scratching sand into my eyes. He then emerges wearing the would-be fatal
millstone around his neck like a collar. In a Swiss variant, The Hairy Boy
(Sutermeister 1873, no. 52), the title hero is attacked by 500 soldiers with
Like the Grimms young giant mentioned above, the Greek hero Achilles may
have derived his great strength, and with it a degree of invulnerability, from
trickster Loki, who knows of the one gap in Balders magic shield, makes a
in order to prove their own or a husbands innocence: one woman allows
D1841.5). Beowulf, with apparent foreknowledge of Grendels magic, at-
tacks the monster with his bare hands and mortally wounds him by pulling
off his arm.
Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition.
1977. Trans. Howell D. Chickering Jr. New York:
The Golden Legend, or Lives of the Saints [Legenda aurea].
1900. Compiled by Jacobus de
Voragine 1275. Trans. William Caxton, ed. F.S. Ellis. London: Temple Classics.
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. 1972 [18161818].
Deutsche Sagen [DS].
2 vols.
Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Kinder- und Hausmrchen [KHM].
3 vols. Ed. Heinz Rlleke. Stuttgart: Reclam.
Based on the edition of 1857.
Haas, Alfred. 1903.
Rgensche Sagen und Mrchen.
Magic Invisibility
Motif D1980
Magic invisibility has fascinated people since ancient times. The
lists fifty subcategories of magic invisibility, including many objects that make
invisibility possible.
States, China, Japan, and the Philippines, among other areas. Thompson says
the motif of the cloak of invisibility is found among the Ute and Micmac in
North America (Thompson 1929, 339).
Perhaps the best-loved tale involving a cloak of invisibility is the Grimms
The Worn-Out Dancing Slippers. A poor soldier, wishing to find out where
the kings daughters go at night, receives a cloak from an old woman who
says When you put this on, youll be invisible and can then stalk the twelve
maidens (Magoun and Krappe 1960, 475). Wearing the cloak, the soldier
follows the princesses down to an underground kingdom, where he collects
branches with silver, golden, and diamond leaves as tokens to show the king.
As a reward, he is given the hand of the eldest princess in marriage, as well as
the eventual inheritance of the kingdom. The hero of this folktale exemplifies
invisibility are a magic flower (D1361.6), a magic calabash (D1361.4), and a
magic tigers hair (D1361.35). A dragon may have the power of invisibility
(B11.5.2); so may a pig (B184.3.2.1). The related motif F241.3.1, Fairy-
swine, reinforces the idea that pigs have a predilection for enchantment. This
desired. A burning finger placed upon a table would show the thief that he
could remain free from discovery until his work was done (Leach 1949, 477).
The folkloric dimensions of magic invisibility have appealed to many au-
thors. In J.R.R. Tolkiens
(1937), Bilbo Baggins discovers a magic
ring that, in rendering him invisible, allows him to escape from the threaten-
ing Gollum. Bilbos cousin Frodo becomes the ring-bearer in Tolkiens
(1955). Frodo finds that the ring makes him feel weak and
The popular magic cloak motif is featured in the best seller
Harry Potter
and the Sorcerers Stone
(Rowling 1997). In his first year of study at Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, young Harry Potter receives a cloak of
invisibility as a Christmas present. Having once belonged to Harrys father,
the cloak symbolizes fatherly protection. It allows Harry and his friend Ron
to glide through the halls at night, searching for answers they are eager to
learn. In the second book of the series,
Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Cox, Marian R. 1893.
Motif D2020
Bewitching occurs when someone with magic power enchants or transforms
a person, animal, or thing. Most bewitching has a negative effect; people die
or suffer injuries (D2060, Death or bodily injury by magic); animals are
paralyzed (D2072.0.2, Animal rendered immovable); cows give curdled milk
(D2083.3); beer is magically kept from brewing (D2084.1); and swords are
magically dulled (D2086.1). The person who bewitches, in folklore and lit-
erature from ancient times to the present, is usually a woman.
, acts of malice, fit the stereotype of the evil witch in the
Middle Ages. The
Malleus Maleficarum
In Homers
the enchantress Circe transforms Odysseuss men into
swine (G263.1, Witch transforms person to animal). Only Odysseus him-
self, protected by the herb moly, is able to avoid transformation. He per-
her island, learning how to respond to dangers he will encounter later in his
voyage. Circe, both dangerous and kind, represents both sides of the Great
In the southern United States, a magic hair-ball facilitates bewitching
(D2070.1; Hand 1964, 668). Witches balls of opaque glass have been sold in
Among the Azande of Zaire, witchcraft is caused by a substance inside the
witchs body. After the witchs death, this substance can be discovered and
removed. Male and female witches consume the souls of their victims, who
fall ill and waste away (Parrinder 1958, 133). Like Azande witches, Ewe
witches of Dahomey and Togo steal souls; they also suck peoples blood.
Female Ewe witches stay inside during the day and wander around at night;
sex may confound the evil eye so that it misses its mark (D2071.1.3). Accord-
According to one specific prescription, a girls heart magically removed and
fed to a man draws her to him (D1905.1). Some contemporary witches in
New York State have said that if a man eats a steak marinated in a witchs
his dinner.
Among Shakespeares characters who can bewitch others are the three
Baughman, Ernest. 1966.
Type and Motif-Index of the Folktales of England and North America.
Bront, Charlotte. 1998 [1846].
Jane Eyre
. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Child, Francis James. 1965 [1882].
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.
5 vols. New
York: Dover.
Various Motifs
In olden times, when wishing still did some good . . . This opening phrase
of the Grimms Frog King (KHM 1; AT 440,
The Frog King or Iron Henry
serves as a motto for their entire collection of
Childrens and Household Tales.
Because a principal function of fairy tales (more precisely, magic or wonder
tales) is fantasy wish fulfillment, it could be argued that most such stories are
about wishing, both the explicit wants verbally expressed by the characters
from most European countries. The Grimms version, Hans Dumb, is one
of the most concise formulations extant, but they included it only in the first
Childrens and Household Tales
(1812, no. 54). The story
A Gypsy version from the Indian subcontinent, How the Gypsy Went
his new head and limbs to the test, for when his fellow villagers see him they
take him for a demon and stone him to death (1964, 449453; Motif J2070,
Absurd wishes).
Slow, the Weaver belongs to the tale type 750A, titled simply
The Wishes.
the first wish is squandered on a trifle, the second is uttered in reckless re-
venge with disastrous results, and the third must be used to undo the conse-
quences of the first two. The Sausage from Sweden is typical. A woman
performs a service for a fairy and is granted three wishes. While fantasizing
about what she might request, she remembers that her husband is expected
pears. When her husband learns that she has thus squandered a wish, he an-
They have to use the final wish to free her from this unnatural appendage
(Djurklou 1901, 2732; J2071, Three foolish wishes. Three wishes will be
versed gender roles, for example, The Three Wishes from England (Jacobs
A ribald version that follows the above formula is found in the
Allah grants three wishes to a certain man, who consults his
wife before executing them. Her advice, in the florid translation of Richard
therefore do thou pray Allah to greaten thy yard and magnify it. He follows
her advice, and his member immediately grows so large that he could neither
sit nor stand nor move about. He forthwith prays to Allah that he be freed of
the monstrosity, only to find himself pegless as a eunuch. They now find no
other recourse but to wish him back to his original state (6:180181).
This writer heard a similar joke in southern Utah in 2001: A cowboy spares
a snakes life, and the snake grants him three wishes. Make me as strong as
Arnold Schwarzenegger, as good-looking as Robert Redford, and as well hung
as the horse Im riding, responds the cowboy. Arriving home, he looks in the
mirror and admires his handsome face and rippling muscles, but then screams
out, Oh no! I forgot that I was riding a mare! The same storyalmost
verbatim, but with Joe Louis and Clark Gable as the icons of popular cul-
turewas collected in the early 1950s in Michigan by Richard M. Dorson
In a subcategory of type 750A tales, one wish is granted to two different
people with positive results for one and negative for the other. The playful
turned away by one woman, but hospitably received by her neighbor. The
generous womans reward is the magic gift to continue all day her first activ-
ity of the morning (J2073.1, Wise and foolish wish: keep doing all day what
you begin), which in her case is to measure a piece of linen that she has
woven. She continues to measure all day, filling her house with valuable cloth.
Envying this good fortune, the selfish neighbor now invites the missionary to
lodge with her. The next morning, the guest departs after granting her the
same wish that had benefited her neighbor. She decides to count the money
she has saved in a jar. However, first of all she has to go outside to answer an
unexpected call of nature. Suddenly the holy mans blessing takes effect, and
The above tales forcefully illustrate that care must be exercised in making
and the fisherman and his wife find themselves back in the filthy shack where
they started (KHM 19; AT 555,
The Fisher and His Wife;
Motif C773.1, Tabu:
making unreasonable requests. Given power of fulfilling all wishes, person
oversteps moderation and is punished). In a Japanese version, The Stone-
cutter, the recipient of magic wishes does not violate a tabu, but goes full
circle following his own desire to become ever more powerful. The benefi-
ciary of a mountain spirit, the stonecutter first asks to become a rich man,
then a prince, then the sun, then a cloud, then a cliff, and finally a stonecutter
(Brauns 1885, 8790). No single wish is deemed foolish or excessive. No
The Dead
Ghosts and Other Revenants
Motifs E200E599
Thompson devotes an entire chapter (E) to the subject of the dead. Most of
the chapter is taken up by motifs dealing with Ghosts and other revenants
(E200599); other divisions are Resuscitation (E0199), Reincarnation
The belief in ghosts is nearly universal. It has been suggested that there is
The girls ghost informs them that her lover Benjie pushed her into the wa-
ter, and they then ask her what kind of punishment they should inflict.
prominent in Slavic countries, particularly in the region of Transylvania, some
scholars suggest that the theme trickled down from European literature. Early
Toelken note that the legends reveal ambivalence because the surviving child
can be seen as causing the mothers death. At the same time, they note, a
mother has a solid obligation to defend or nurture her child even in death;
The motif of the grateful dead (E341) appears in a cluster of tales, AT 505
508, falling under the heading
The Grateful Dead.
In all these tales, the
Otherworld Journeys
Motifs F0F199
There are generally three otherworlds to which heroes in myth, legend, and
folktale journey: the upper world (F10), the lower world (F80), and the earthly
paradise (F111), although these are not always clearly distinguished from
world). While the girl lives in the upper world, often there is a tabu against
digging (C523, Digging tabu), and when she ignores it and digs, the girl
finds that she is able to see down to her home on earth. She then plans to
and eat everything. The girl, in despair of her parents anger, jumps into the
pool. She sinks down until she comes to the underworld, where she finds an
old woman living in a hut, with whom she lives and works for a long time, but
Orpheus ultimately fails in his mission because he disobeys the injunction of
the god of the underworld, Hades, not to look back at her as they make their
way to the upper world. The story is extremely widespread in folklore around
the world and has been used in elite literature as well. Other examples of
rescue from the underworld in Greek myth are Dionysus rescuing his mother,
Semele, and Herakles rescuing Theseus and Ascalaphus during his twelfth
One of the best-known examples of the journey to the underworld is found
of Homer. The ostensible reason for Odysseuss
Tam Lin,
the mortal Tam Lin is abducted by the Queen of
Fairies. Although he describes fairyland as a pleasant place, he says that
every seven years the fairies make a sacrifice to hell, and he fears he will be
the one sacrificed. He therefore enlists the aid of a mortal lover to pull him
down from his horse when he rides in the fairy procession at midnight on
Halloween and to hold him fast through various transformations until the
the story in Genesis about the wonderful garden that God caused to appear
in Eden (1995, 3). Religious texts, epics, romances, vision literature,
apocalypses, and travel literature all describe journeys to an earthly para-
dise. The Old Testament, however, does not describe a journey to the earthly
paradise; instead, Adam is placed there by God at Creation. The earthly
paradise, a garden made at Creation as a residence and responsibility for
Adam and Eve, is mentioned in Ezekiel 28 as having been lost through
disobedience. Thus, the first biblical passages about the earthly paradise
focus on mans loss of it.
The original word for paradise is the Persian
which means a
walled orchard or garden (Delumeau 1995, 4). Kramer writes that the very
idea of a paradise, a garden of the gods, is likely of Sumerian origin:
where later, the Babylonians, the Semitic people who conquered the
Sumerians, located their land of the living, the home of their immortals.
scribed as a garden planted
in Eden, from whose waters flow the
four world rivers including the Tigris and Euphrates, may have been origi-
The journey of Gilgamesh, described above, may be the first recorded ac-
count of a journey to the earthly paradise. Gilgamesh undertakes a quest to
find Utnapishtim, the only man who ever gained immortality. Gilgamesh travels
beyond Boreas, the North Wind. The Zoroastrian paradise is one of the mul-
(1899) includes a description of the otherworld to which Dorothy journeys
from Kansas that reads very much like a description of an earthly paradise:
Daemmrich, Ingrid G., ed. 1997.
Enigmatic Bliss: The Paradise Motif in Literature.
1 vol. New
Fairies and Elves
Motifs F200F399
Although there are creatures in world folklore and literature that are similar
to those known in English as fairies, fairies are uniquely European, promi-
nent in the cultures of Western Europe, especially in Celtic areas such as
Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and Brittany. In Germany and Scandinavia they
are known as elves,
nisses, neks,
kobolds, and nixies. A few commentators
identify the peris of Persian mythology and folklore with the fairiesmainly
land (Leach 1949 1, 363). They were thought to live alongside mortals, often
in subterranean dwellings (F210, Fairyland; F211, Fairyland under a hol-
low knoll (mound, hill, s
These, like the Roman Lars, are small, ancestral household deities who attach
many a grene mede (The Wife of Baths Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, late four-
German Popular
illustrated by George Cruikshank (1824
who drinks human blood, to the small, grotesque browniehairy, naked, and
ugly but essentially helpful.
Fairy character is best described as capricious and amoral. Fairies love and
inhabitants of earth. In short, this religious view depicted the elfin peoples
told of both groups, and many place persons believed dead in fairyland, coex-
isting with the fairies. Interestingly, the same rituals and prohibitions govern
relations with fairies and the dead; both are night-creatures who must vanish
of Paracelsus and
seventeenth-century alchemists and magicians. The latter
groups had argued that each element was ruled by a resident spirit: sylphs
were made of air, gnomes of earth, salamanders of fire, and undines or nymphs
of water. Mystics and occultists conflated the elementals with the fairies of
folklore and believed them influential in sances, poltergeist occurrences, and
other psychic phenomena. After Darwin, some believers argued that fairies
were simply life-forms existing on another branch of the tree of evolution;
though invisible to humans, they were fellow occupants of earth. Supporters
of this theory, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose book
the Fairies
(1922) widely publicized photographs of elfin creatures, thought
them little nature-spirits whose special function was to fertilize and tend plants
and flowers.
Beginning with an ancient Anglo-Saxon charm against elf-shot, fairies have
been chronicled in literature. They appear in Arthurian romance and in other
medieval works, including
Sir Huon of Bordeaux.
Some of
these stories made their way into ballads and may be found in a number of the
English and Scottish ballads in F.J. Childs collection, especially King Orfeo,
The Elfin Knight, Tam Lin, The Wee Wee Man, Thomas Rhymer,
Thomas of Erceldoune, and The Queen of Elfans Nourice. In Chaucers
Canterbury Tales
(late fourteenth century), the Wife of Bath, recounting a
wrote that there is not a place outside of the large Irish towns where they do
not believe that the Fairies, the Tribes of the goddess Danu, are stealing their
bodies and their souls (Yeats 1976, 2:56). In Tolstoys novel
War and Peace
as Natasha and her brother are driving home after a day in the coun-
tryside, Natasha says that she has been thinking in the darkness that they
might arrive not at their home, but in fairyland (Book 7, Part 7). This little
fantasy is poignant because Natasha is on the brink of marriage, perhaps not
quite ready to give up her childhood. She also adds, I know that I shall never
again be as happy and tranquil as I am now, and, indeed, her life, and the
lives of all the people of Russia, are soon to be turned upside down by war.
The fairies survive in contemporary literature, playing roles in books by
such figures as Sylvia Townsend Warner, Angela Carter, and Tanith Lee, and
they live on in contemporary life in their newest transformationas the huge-
eyed, small gray creatures visiting from other worlds in their UFOs.
Carole G. Silver
Briggs, K.M. 1967.
Fairies in English Tradition and Literature.
Chicago: University of Chi-
. 1970. Fairies.
Man, Myth and Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatu-
l, 4:901906. New York: Marshall Cavendish.
. 1977.
A Dictionary of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies and Other Supernatural
Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. 1922.
The Coming of the Fairies.
London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Eberhard, Wolfram. 1965.
Folktales of China.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jones, Alison. 1995.
Larousse Dictionary of Wold Folklore.
Edinburgh: Larousse.
Keightley, Thomas. 1850 [1833].
The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Super-
stition of Various Countries.
Rev. ed. London: Whittaker, Treacher.
Leach, MacEdward. 1949. Fairy.
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, My-
thology and Legend.
2 vols. New York: Funk and Wagnalls.
MacRitchie, David. 1890.
The Testimony of Tradition.
London: Kegan Paul.
Silver, Carole G. 1999.
Water Spirits
Motif F420
Traditional cultures everywhere associate water with supernatural beings, and
understandably so, given the necessity of water for all life; the ever-changing
appearance of rivers, lakes, and oceans; obvious but rarely predictable con-
who fell into the water became water spirits: water-men, mermaids, and
merwomen (Khler 1886, 99).
unnamed water spirit, even if it does not accept the sacrifice of an innocent
One of Europes best-known water sprites is Lorelei (also spelled Lore
Lay), who haunts the base of a cliff on the Rhine River near the village of
Bacharach. Her story is known both in folk legends and in ballads by Clemens
Brentano, Heinrich Heine, and others. Lorelei, it is said, is a young woman
who unintentionally causes men to fall in love with her. Suspecting her of
witchcraft, a bishop summons her to his court. Weary of her destructive power
over men, she begs for a death sentence. Instead, the bishop, moved by her
beauty, pronounces her free of all guilt, then proposes that she dedicate her-
self to God. He calls three knights to accompany her to the convent. Their
route takes them past a high cliff overlooking the Rhine. Standing at the edge
of the precipice, Lorelei says, See that boat on the Rhine. The boatman is my
lover! With no further warning, she jumps from the cliff into the Rhine. She
still sits on a rock at a dangerous bend in the river, singing a seductive song
onto the rocks.
bell sounds). Told throughout Europe, these legends fall into two main cat-
egories. First are bells that were accidentally dropped into deep water while
being transportedan example is the Kentsham bell that continues to toll off
associated with submerged towns (F725.2., Submarine cities). The most
famous of these in Europe is the city of Ys, submerged beneath the Bay of
Douarnenez in Brittany. The legend that its cathedral bells can still be heard
from beneath the water inspired Claude Debussys La Cathdral engloutie
(The Sunken [or Engulfed] Cathedral).
Another musical piece prompted by sunken bells is the Welsh folksong
The Bells of Aberdovey, popular since the eighteenth century. Aberdovey is
the town closest to the legendary port of Gwyddno, now submerged in Cardi-
gan Bay. Writing in 1907, W. Jenkyn Thomas claimed, The nearest town to
the submerged realm of Gwyddno is Aberdovey. If you stand on the beach
Burne, Charlotte S. 1884. Two Folk-Tales, Told by a Herefordshire Squire, 18456.
Lore Journal
2: 2022.
Child, Francis James. 1965. Reprint.
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.
5 vols. New
York: Dover. Orig. ed. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 18821898.
Douglas, George. 1901.
Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales.
London: Walter Scott.
Ey, August. 1862.
Harzmrchenbuch; oder, Sagen und Mrchen aus dem Oberharze.
Verlag von Fr. Steudel.
Gregor, Walter. 1881.
Notes on the Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland.
London: Folk-
Extraordinary Sky and
Weather Phenomena
Motif F790
Since the beginning of recorded history, human beings have gazed up at the
sky to seek signs of what will happen next: good or bad weather, calamities,
marvels, visions, and blessings. People have often associated celestial phe-
nomena with religious beliefs and practices. In many religions, the sky is the
home of a deity or deities and the place where people expect to go after their
deaths. Sightings of extraterrestrial visitors have been documented by mem-
bers of diverse cultures. Unidentified flying objects (UFOs), eclipses, com-
influenced myths and tales (1985). While this theory has little credence among
folklorists today, it indicates the importance of celestial phenomena in
Early Irish folklore tells of many extraordinary creatures and objects in the
sky. A flying dragon (B11.4.1) is commonly cited, as are death-bringing fire
from heaven (F797), magic storms (D905), magic darkness (D908), and a
magic mist caused by Druids (D902.1.1). Often the extraordinariness of a
celestial event comes from the nature of the personage who caused it, not the
nature of the event itself.
Magic control of the elements (D2140) is often attributed to magicians,
saints, and witches in folklore of the Middle Ages in Great Britain and other
parts of Western Europe. Saints can raise storms (D2141.0.9), often for be-
nevolent purposes. For example, after his death on a warm day, Saint Frodobert
makes the weather so cold and icy that mourners can walk across the ice to his
funeral (D2145.1.1, Local winter. Winter produced in one place while it is
summer everywhere else; Baring-Gould 1914). Witches are described in the
Malleus Maleficarum
of 1486 as dangerous creatures who can raise and stir
according to Illinois folklore, may show that rain will come before night; a
the northwest. After a solar eclipse, five full days of rain can be expected. A
New York proverb states, When theres a ring around the moon, rain is
coming soon; another proverb explains, with reference to an upside-down
Big Dipper, If the stars are in a huddle, the world will be in a puddle
Colors of the sky may indicate when rain is coming. One very popular
proverb known to both farmers and mariners is Red sky at night, sailors
delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. In New England, rain can
be expected if the horizon has a greenish tinge; a purple haze forecasts a
of the disastrous famine. A magic fog is also prominent in the Finnish
as well as in the Arthurian cycle in Great Britain.
Lightning is another form of severe weather that people take pains to avoid.
The proverb Lightning never strikes twice in the same place helps to ex-
plain why people may take shelter under burnt trees or logs. In Illinois, people
may burn blessed palm leaves or throw an ax into a yard to deflect lightning;
The last excerpt is a fine literary example of motif F961.1.1, Sun refuses to
shine when murder is done.
Countless literary works have reflected peoples fascination with cata-
strophic storms, the natural forces of chaos and destruction. In Louise Erdrichs
Tales of Burning Love
(1997), a woman freezes to death in an Easter blizzard
and four other women, all of whom are ex-wives of the same man, spend the
Hendricks, George D. 1980.
Roosters, Rhymes, and Railroad Tracks.
Motif G10
The eating of human flesh (anthropophagy) is to civilized people one of the
most repellent events imaginable (C227, Tabu: eating human flesh). In their
body and blood of Christ, strikes nonbelievers as cannibalistic.
Cannibals in folklore span a continuum from animals who devour people
(e.g., the wolf in AT 333,
the cat in AT 2027,
The Fat
) (Ranke 1977 , s.v.
) through more or less humanoid
werewolves and monsters (the troll in AT 2028; the Chinese Grand-aunt Tiger
in AT 123/333) (Dundes 1989, 2163), through human strangers who eat
people, to cannibalistic relatives. Folktales and legends from all parts of the
world feature ogres who seem to belong to a subhuman race of creatures
chapter 10; Warner 1999, 1183). Modern usage of the word ogre began in
1697 in French literary folktales;
was used in an early (1713) En-
The Thousand and One Nights.
The Children and the Ogre,
and AT 328,
[Girl] Steals the Giants Treasures,
the hero escapes. In legends, however, he
may not. In either genre, the ogre may eat other human characters (Ranke
1977 , s.v.
Menschenfleisch riechen
Eaters of corpses inhabit tales from many parts of the world. In the Middle
East, ghouls, like ogres elsewhere, are often stupid and may rely on their
Motif G72, Unnatural parents eat children, is the most pitiful example of
atrocities concerning parents and children. In AT 720,
My Mother Slew Me,
My Father Ate Me,
a child is killed and cooked by his mother and served to his
father for dinner. A tree grows from the childs bones, and a bird sings about
the murder and cannibalism (Belgrader 1980). Often this account begins with
a mother who eats the meat that should have been her familys dinner. She
replaces it with part of her body, flesh from her leg or breast. From eating this
meal, she and her husband develop a taste for human meat, and they decide to
cook one of their children (G36, Taste of human flesh leads to habitual can-
nibalism). This introduction can lead instead into other tales in which the
children, having overheard their parents murderous plan, run away.
In several tales of persecuted women, AT 451, 652, 706, 707, 710, and 712,
a new mother is falsely accused of having eaten her newborn child. The accu-
sation is supported by evidence in the form of animal blood (K2116.1.1,
Innocent woman accused of eating her new-born children). In a tale from
India and Arab lands, children are actually eaten by their starving mothers. A
queen who is really an ogress causes her co-wives to be imprisoned in a pit.
There, they give birth, and all except one eat their children (AT 462,
Outcast Queens and the Ogress Queen
). Only rarely do stories tell of children
eating their parents. In Cinderella tales (AT 511 and 510A) in the Balkans, the
been turned into a cow (Xanthakou 1988; Rooth 1951, 213215).
Origin myths include both infanticide and patricide, followed by eating the
victim (Macculloch 1980, 208209; Thomsen 1983, 2428). According to
(lines 453ff.), the Greek god Kronos, afraid that one of
his children will supplant him, swallows them in succession, until, finally, his
wife Rhea substitutes a stone for the infant Zeus. Zeus, when grown, forces
Kronos to vomit up all the other children, who become the Olympian gods. In
Totem and Taboo
(1960), Sigmund Freud developed a modern myth in which
Resuscitation with missing member). The eighteenth-century London barber-
murderer Sweeney Todd, popularized in a 1979 musical production by Stephen
Sondheim, is said to have disposed of the corpses of his victims by preparing
Motif G61, Relatives Flesh Eaten Unwittingly, a personalized form of
G60, is amply documented in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Since
World War II, Motif G61 has circulated as an urban legend motivated only by
ignorance or misunderstanding. Cremated remains of a relative are included
in a package sent to family members overseas, and the recipients eat the ashes,
Cosquin, Emmanuel. 1922.
Paris: E. Champion.
Dixon, Roland B. 1916.
Oceanic Mythology.
Vol. 9 of
The Mythology of All Races.
Archaeological Institute of America.
Dundes, Alan, ed. 1989.
Little Red Riding Hood: A Casebook.
Madison: University of Wiscon-
The Blood Libel Legend. A Casebook in Anti-Semitic Folklore.
Madison: Uni-
versity of Wisconsin Press.
Frazer, James George, trans. and ed. 1921.
Apollodorus: The Library.
2 vols. Loeb Classical
Library. New York and London: Harvard University Press, William Heinemann.
Totem and Taboo.
London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Goldberg, Christine. 1997
. The Tale of the Three Oranges.
FFC no. 263. Helsinki: Suomalainen
. 1998. Dogs Rescue Master from Tree Refuge: An African Tale with World-Wide
Western Folklore
57: 4461.
Macculloch, J.A. 1905.
The Childhood of Fiction: A Study of Folk Tales and Primitive Thought
New York: E.P. Dutton.
. 1980 [19081926]. Cannibalism. In
Identity Tests
Motifs H0H199
Thompson introduces the section on Recognition Tests in the
saying, Elaborate means are employed in folk-literature for the recognition
of persons even though they have been separated a very short time. In cases
where people are not recognized by sight, identity must be proved through
common knowledge (H10), such as telling a story known to both persons
concerned (H11), telling ones life history (H11.1), ancestry (H11.1.4), sing-
seventeenth century, but a strong oral tradition has also preserved the story. It
is extraordinarily popular in the folklore of the Baltic states, of Sweden, Den-
mark, and Germany; and it is known over all parts of Europe (1977, 6566).
In a Chinese story called Husband and Wife in This Life and in the Life to
Come, a mans dead wife is reincarnated in a baby (T589.5, Newborn child
reincarnation of recently deceased person). The baby keeps her right hand
tightly clutched until she is seventeen years old, when the husband opens it
and finds half a coin which makes a perfect whole with his own half (Eberhard
Related to identification by tokens is S334, Tokens of royalty (nobility)
left with exposed child. King Aegeus, the father of the Greek hero Theseus,
beloveds castle. The prince is soon to be married, and his bride-to-be ar-
ranges for the heroine to take her place at the wedding, in order to conceal her
pregnancy or her unattractiveness. The heroine agrees not to tell the prince,
imagine. Not only is it marked by fine workmanship and dainty size, but
when put to the trial of discovering the runaway beauty, it darts forward to the
are offered as to how she loses her slipper. Most often, as in Perraults story,
for example, the heroine, in her haste to leave a festive event, simply drops it.
Cinderella and the Glass Slipper in
The Fairy Library,
illustrated by George
Unable to dismount and recover it, and unwilling to abandon it, she asks suc-
cessive passersby to pick it up for her. Each one responds, With great plea-
sure, if you will marry me. She rejects proposals from a fishmonger, a rice
seller, and an oil merchant, but accepts the offer of a handsome scholar. He
picks up the shoe and puts it on her foot, then takes her to his house and makes
In a few instances, the shoe-fitting test fails. For example, in the Chilean
tale Maria Cinderella, the lost slipper perfectly fits both the heroine and her
unworthy stepsister, but only Maria can produce the slippers mate, so she
still proves herself the true bride by means of a shoe (Pino-Saavedra 1968, no.
19). In at least one folktale, the expected gender roles are reversed. In Sheep-
is found in stories of other types as well. For example, in A Lost Shoe of
Gold from Saudi Arabia, a sultans daughter sees her tutor eating a dead
horse and thus discovers that he is a ghoul. Terrified, she runs from his house,
leaving one of her shoes behind. The ghoul, with the lost shoe as proof of her
identity and of her presence in his house, cruelly harasses her, trying unsuc-
Frere, Mary. 1881.
Old Deccan Days; or, Hindoo Fairy Legends Current in Southern India.
3rd ed. London: John Murray.
Gaster, M. 1915.
Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories.
Motifs H530H899
It should come as no surprise that Thompson required twenty-six pages of the
to list and classify riddle motifs in traditional narrative. Riddles
are classified under Tests of Cleverness. The presence of riddles in folk narra-
tives often functions as a test of the hero or protagonist.
tures as a mark of intellectual agility, shrewdness, practical wisdom, and
worldly knowledge: it is only logical that traditional narrative should recount
the riddling exploits of noteworthy characters and exploit audience interest in
verbal and intellectual play, an interest that appears early in the young and in
approaches, they despair of their fate. An old woman inquires why they are
so sad (N825.3, Old woman helper), and when they confide in her, she
that he must enter. It turns out to be the house of the devils grandmother,
who conceals the soldier so he can hear the devil give the answers to the
Child (1965) printed two ballad versions called King John and the Bishop.
cess offered to man who can out-riddle her, including Types 725 (
The Dream
The Princess Who Cannot Solve the Riddle
), and 900 (
King Thrushbeard
although the version known from the Grimm collection does not contain the
The medieval Latin legend of Apollonius King of Tyre, presumably based
on a lost Greek romance, was translated into Old English and later into most
other European vernaculars. The legend appears as Book 8 of John Gowers
(ca. 1390); with a change of the heros name it was the
source for Shakespeares tragicomic romance Pericles,
Prince of Tyre
1607). In that version, Antiochus, king of Antioch, wards off potential suitors
of his beautiful daughter by posing a riddle that they must solve on pain of
Motif H561.1, Clever peasant girl asked riddles by king, is a component of
Type 875,
The Clever Peasant Girl,
who in some versions answers riddles
One of the best examples of this class is the ballad Riddles Wisely Ex-
the morning if they are to wed, he says they will wed only if she can answer
his riddles. In some versions the man is a knight and upon her successfully
guessing the riddles he marries her; in others, he is a fiend and flies away as
soon as she names him (C432.1, Guessing name of supernatural creature
gives power over him).
In a discussion of Child 2, The Elfin Knight, which contains riddlecraft
in the form of impossible tasks, Wimberly says that a maid escapes being
carried off to the Otherworld by outwitting her dead lover. The impossible
(AT 875A,
Motif H1200
Thompson classified quests under Chapter H (Tests) as tests of prowess.
The significance of the quest, however, goes far beyond its function as a test
of the hero. As Leeming writes, Life renewal is always the ultimate goal of
the quest,
and life renewal is both a spiritual and a physical process (1987,
147). He stresses that a quest need not involve a physical journey because it is
essentially a religious endeavor, so that the Buddha seeking enlightenment
Argos in search of the Golden Fleece. Moreover,
through the medium of religious ritual and related disciplines. The Muslim
who journeys to Mecca is given the special title of
for having followed in
life that are ritually observed. The heros birth and parentage are unusual
paradoxical (H1050), tedious (H1110), or superhuman (H1130), and they can
be performed within the context of a quest or independently of it.
Tales such as
The Dragon Slayer
(AT 300) or
The Water of Life
(AT 551)
are prime examples of folktales embodying the quest motif; in the former, the
hero must rescue a princess from being sacrificed to a dragon that is the scourge
of a kingdom; in the latter, he must find the healing waters to restore his father
to health. Thompson writes that there are some half a dozen tales in which
the quest is the central event (1977, 105). The two tales mentioned above are
in this latter category, as is
The Bird, the Horse, and the Princess
(AT 550).
is small, Thompson states that there is a very large number of tales in which
tasks and quests figure as a subordinate part of the story. He lists the follow-
Jack the Giant Killer
(AT 328),
The Devils Riddle
(AT 812),
(AT 500),
The Three Old Women Helpers
(AT 501),
The Monsters Bride
Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful
(AT 531),
Devil as Advocate
(AT 821B),
The Healing Fruits
(AT 610),
(AT 611),
The Two Travelers
(AT 613),
The Three Oranges
(AT 408),
The Wolf
(AT 428),
The Prince and the Armbands
(AT 590),
Women by the Spring
(AT 480),
The Journey to God to Receive Reward
The Journey in Search of Fortune
(AT 460B
), The Prophecy
(AT 930),
The Dream
(AT 725),
Three Hairs from the Devils Beard
(AT 461),
The Clever
Peasant Girl
(AT 875),
(AT 920), and
The Master Thief
(AT 1525) (1977, 105).
As an example, in
commonly known from the Grimms ver-
sion, Rumpelstiltskin (KHM 55)a poor girl is given the task of spinning
other world is conceived of as lying beyond a great body of water (F141,
Water barrier to otherworld; Thompson 1977, 140). On his way, the hero is
only the three hairs but the answers to the questions (G530.3, Help from
century intensive fieldwork has proven that assessment wrong. There is a rich
mine of epics that runs across the Sahel and down into Central Africa, defined
by William Johnson as the African Epic Belt (Johnson, Hale, and Belcher
For example, Biebuyck (1969, 1978) has collected multiple variants of the
Mwindo epic among the Nyanga in Zaire, which, he affirms, fit the standard
definitions and characterization of epic literature (1978, 3). Some of the mo-
tifs in these versions are A511.1.3.3, Immaculate conception of culture hero;
A511.2.1, Abandonment of culture hero at birth; A527.1, Culture hero
precocious; H1270, Quest to lower world; F81.1, Journey to land of dead
to bring back person from the dead; N831, Girl as helper; H900, Tasks
imposed; D1581, Tasks performed by use of magic objects; and A566,
Quest for the Vanished Husband/Lover
Motifs H1385.4 and H1385.5
In folklore, a womans quest for her vanished husband or lover is the central
motif in numerous tales named for these motifs (H1285.4 and H1385.5), AT
425 A-P,
The Search for the Vanished Husband.
That quest also appears in
related tales (AT 430, 432, 441). One of the best documented and researched
Christian tradition a punishment for Eves sin): in The Serpent and The Grape
Growers Daughter from France, the abandoned wife cried night and day
and walked unceasingly; she was all the more afflicted and her wandering
was all the more painful in that she was with child (Delarue 1956, 180).
in Apuleiuss
The Golden Ass
(second century CE). However, scholars have
nium BCE (Anderson 2000). Megas (1971) shows that some of the oldest
elements in the tale were not used by Apuleius, but remain current in modern
European versions, evidence of an independent oral tradition.
be reborn to full consciousness and humanity, the [animal-groom] stories
leave no doubt that this is what she must do. Otherwise there would be no
about losing the nurturance of women on whom they heavily depend, and
they capture the actual experiences of many young husbands whose wives
European literature (Hearne 1989; Ralph 1989; Warner 1994; Zipes 1994;
Karen Bamford
Aarne, Antti. 1961.
The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography.
Trans. and
enlarged by Stith Thomson. FFC no. 3. 2d revision. Helsinki : Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
Accardo, Pasquale. 2002.
The Wise and the Foolish
Motif J1030.1
Individuation is the process whereby a part of a whole becomes progres-
sively more distinct and independent (English and English 1966, 258). Indi-
viduation plays a critical role in the development of the self and is one of the
usefulness (El-Shamy 1995, I:15). For example, in
Folk Traditions of the Arab
World: A Guide to Motif Classification,
key principles from cognitive psy-
chological literature have been used as classificatory devices (El-Shamy 1995,
Jungs concept of the process of individuation and its effect on the individual
is a theme that recurs repeatedly in lore, literature, and belief systems. From
a general perspective, individuation may be viewed as the gaining of wisdom
by a person; thus individuation may be classified as one of the motifs within
the J chapter (The wise and the foolish). More specifically, individuation
belongs to the category of Acquisition and possession of wisdom (knowl-
edge), of which Self-dependence (J1030) is an aspect. A new motif that
addresses individuation in general terms is designated as J1030.1, Maturity
(growing up, independence, individuation) gained by leaving home.
Leaving home and gaining wisdom in the world independently of ones
parents and other family members may be seen as part of the struggle be-
and obedience to an old woman succeeds in rescuing them and bringing
Restoration of Children.
(a) The attention of the king is drawn to the
children and the magic objects. (b) The bird of truth reveals to him the whole
history. (c) The children and the wife are restored; the sister-in-law is pun-
ished. (Aarne and Thompson 1964)
Despite the confining title that specifies the number of children and limits
the childrens gender to males, several variations and subtypes of the narra-
tive are encountered. Typically, the tales action involves castaway infants:
brothers who may be two or three in number, or brothers only and no sister
(OSullivan 1966, no. 19; in sub-Saharan Africa), as the title of the tale type
specifies. Often the children are twins.
This tale type is extremely widespread throughout the world, which may
aspect of the personality (von Franz 1990, 49). Hence, the acquisition by the
castaway children of such treasures as the dancing bamboo, and the singing
water may be seen as steps bringing the adventurer closer to the ultimate truth
(self), which he or she will never be able to fully comprehend.
The final step in the process of individuation is the acquisition of the speak-
ing bird-of truth (the white parrot in von Franzs Spanish version). The bird
is a symbol for the mysterious truth that the unconscious speaks. That means
that it is a threshold phenomenon: it conveys the wondrous thoughts of the
in human language that makes it a very fitting symbol (von Franz 1990, 67)
The bird tells the community (the childrens father) the truth about life and
his children, explaining that the substitute for the children (cat, dog) could
not be his offspring because it is not human.
With the father and the community renouncing the old belief about the
able source of truth acting on their behalf), a significant aspect of the process
of individuation is accomplished.
the grave and asked for its share; he struck it with a spoon, thus causing it to
disappear. Another robber sent him to a lonely building. He entered and saw
on a raised platform a swing in which a child was weeping. A maiden
T463.0.1, Pseudo-homosexual (male) attraction: man falls in love with
another man who turns out to be a woman in disguise). She successfully
In elite literature, examples of individuation may be found in innumerable
works, including Charles Dickenss
Oliver Twist
(18371839) and
(18491850), and Mark Twains
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
(1876). In the latter, Twain describes the experiences of two runaway boys:
Tom and Huck. The novel is brought to a close (Chapter XXXV) with the
Contest Won by Deception
Motifs K0K99
fox turns around to see how far behind him the snail is, and the snail jumps
down from the tail and calls out, Im already here! Thus, concludes the
storyteller, the proud fox had to admit that he had lost. Essentially the same
thinks is his legitimate opponent is waiting at the turning point and the finish
line. He runs the full course three times, but in the end has to acknowledge
The devil of these tales is not the scheming, wickedly clever, and nearly
omnipotent Satan of traditional Judaism and Christianity, but rather an unso-
phisticated, selfish bully with very limited powers of both body and mind.
Official theology may offer dire warnings against dealing with the devil (as
evidenced, for example, in such cautionary tales as the
chapbook of
1587), but in these tales simple country folk make pacts with the devil and
win! Perhaps the dupes of these jests are devils in name only, with their actual
genealogies leading back to the trolls, ogres, giants, and even gods of my-
thologies discreditedbut not entirely supplantedby Christianity.
One such heathen deity-turned-demon is Odin or Wodan, whosoon after
the conversion of northern Europe to Christianityreappeared in folk belief
Thief Escapes Detection
Motif K400
into a cautionary tale, warning about the wiles of women, as in the Indian
version The Good Husband and the Bad Wife (Kingscote and Sstr 1890,
The theft of food by an underling, who then evades punishment with a
clever deception, was also a favorite subject for ancient fabulists. Fables, of
course, have traditionally been a relatively safe medium for the exposure of
human foibles, especially those likely to be displayed in a culture strictly
differentiated by class. Servants have been eating their masters food surrep-
titiously, then making wild excuses if caught, as long as there have been ser-
vants and masters. Traditional fables, by hiding the human actors behind masks
One example, often attributed to the Turkish trickster Nasreddin Hodja
any recourse.
Burton, Richard F., trans. [18851888].
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night: A Plain
and Literal Translation of The Arabian Nights Entertainments.
10 vols. plus 6 supplemen-
tal vols. [n.p.]: Privately printed by the Burton Club.
Erdoes, Richard, and Alfonso Ortiz. 1984.
American Indian Myths and Legends.
New York:
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. 1980.
Kinder- und Hausmrchen
[KHM]. 3 vols. Edited
by Heinz Rlleke. Stuttgart: Reclam. Based on the edition of 1857.
Herodotus. [1909].
The History of Herodotus.
Trans. George Rawlinson. 4 vols. New York:
Kingscote, Mrs. Howard [Georgiana Wolff], and Nats Sstr. 1890.
Tales of the Sun; or,
Folklore of Southern India.
London: W.H. Allen.
Levine, Lawrence W. 1977.
Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk
Thought from Slavery to Freedom.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nesin, Aziz. 1988.
Seduction or Deceptive Marriage
Motifs K1300K1399
In Stith Thompsons taxonomy, seduction or deceptive marriage is a subcat-
egory of the larger theme of Deception (ch. K), and he remarks that there has
always been a greater interest in deceptions connected with sex conduct than
any other (Thompson 1977, 202). Motifs in the seduction category include
(K1330), entering a girls (or mans) room (or bed) by trick (K1340), and
persuading (or wooing) a woman by trick (K1350).
Current usage would categorize many of the tales that appear under the
heading seduction as rape. William Little observes that the semantic and
social distinctions that separate seduction and rape were less significant in the
lechery, the rake, and the philanderer (Little 1988, 1159), literary seduction
is hardly limited to men, and the case of Scheherazade suggests an even more
general sense of the termthe employment of trickery and temptation to
cause people to commit whatever acts they would normally resist, including
acts of love and mercy.
Some form of seduction is a motive factor in many folktales and literary works,
including the foundational narratives of a number of cultures, such as Satans
seduction of Eve (and by extension Adam) in the Old Testament. Wendy
OFlaherty states that one of the explanatory narratives for the linga cults of
India holds that in the guise of a beggar Shiva seduced the wives of religious
men who had not acknowledged his divinity. As punishment, they castrated
the beggar, but when his linga fell to the ground darkness fell over the earth,
and they pleaded with Shiva to restore things as they were. His condition was
Casias 1998). Cautionary tales regarding seduction also take the form of ur-
ban legends, in which those who succumb risk waking up to discover conse-
quences that include intentional infection with HIV (the lover has left, and
Welcome to the world of AIDS is scrawled in lipstick on the bathroom
mirror) or loss of bodily organs (the seducee wakes up groggy and with a
surgical scar; doctors later confirm that a kidney has been stolen for sale)
(Mikkelson and Mikkelson 2000, 2002). Here the seduction itself is only an
instrument in some other nefarious plot.
Somchintana Thongthew-Ratarasarn discusses a Thai folk practice of magi-
cal seduction. In a 1979 article, she explains that
[1]ove magic is a current belief-in-practice in central Thailand. It is a com-
plex system of magic that is designed to induce its victims to fall helplessly
in love with a designated suitor. Love magic is used within a general Bud-
dhist context, but the magic itself consists primarily of elements derived
from animistic folk beliefs and the Brahmanistic tradition. (Thongthew-
combination of deception, mistaken identity, aristocratic social standing, and
promises of marriage, but the libertine behavior that becomes the characters
hallmark in the popular culture is in this play somewhat overshadowed. This
first Don Juans fatal error lies not in being a
of women, but in
counting on the time to repent for it later, and thus presuming against the
theological virtue of hope, one of the unpardonable sins against the Holy
Spirit (Presberg 1995, 223). To various reminders of the inevitability of death
he himself becomes the instrument of salvation for others. When the woman
in the first scene of the film asks You seduce women? Don Juan replies
No, I never take advantage of a woman. I give women pleasure, if they desire
Don Juan de Marco
(1995). In it, Don Juan says,
From Guillaume de Lorris and
Le roman de la rose
Entrance into Girls (Mans)
Room (Bed) by Trick
Motif K1340
Trickster tales often display substantial ingenuity, describing confidence games
that involve multiple complex steps. However, the tricks designed to gain
entry into the bed or bedroom of a member of the opposite sex are usually
quite straightforward, suggesting perhaps that the victims in such pranks
are, in truth, willing participants or that, as Wendy Doniger remarks in
the victims lie to themselves as much as the tricksters lie to them.
. . . The lying of the trickster is the obviously false element in a bedtrick, but
the lying of the victim, though less obvious, is often what sustains the my-
thology (2000, 8). The motif of the bedtrick is ancient and widespread, oc-
curring in the Old Testament, the
Rig Veda
and ancient Indian storytelling
tradition, Greek myth, the
Arabian Nights,
several of Shakespeares plays,
various operas, and even movies (Doniger provides an extensive filmography
)In an appendix, Doniger lists motifs from the
to plots of the bedtrick, noting that these motifs encompass four possible
permutations of gender and seeking/avoiding: women, avoiding or seeking;
and men, avoiding or seeking (Doniger 2000, 493).
In myth and legend there are many stories of gods and heroes shape-shifting
in order to bed women they desire. Greek mythology abounds in stories of
Zeus seducing mortal women. In some cases, he accomplishes this by dis-
womans husband; D658.2, Transformation to husbands (lovers) form to
seduce woman), and fathers Herakles. To Dane he appears as a shower of
The Princess Always
Answers No
Type 900 tales open with a spirited (most storytellers use a negative adjec-
tive such as
) princess rejecting a suitor, who then disguises himself
and aggressive masculine values combine in these stories to identify the domi-
neering king with the storytellers own homeland, whereas the shrewish prin-
comb, and a golden spinning wheel, thus gaining access to her husbands
bedroom for three successive nights (D2006.1.4, Forgotten fiance buys place
in husbands bed and reawakens his memory). There she hopes to bring him
to a recognition of his former marriage, but the false bride gives him a sleeping
potion each evening, so for the first two nights he sleeps through the heroines
Reversal of Fortune
Pride Brought Low
Motifs L400L499
Pride Brought Low is a subdivision of Chapter L, Rever-
sal of Fortune. The most direct and accessible phrase identifying this motif is
pride humbled, a condition often colloquially described in the United States
as being cut down to size or falling (or being knocked) off a high horse.
The impressive number of idioms and images devoted to this theme over the
past millennia may be attributed to the fact that numerous people and cultures
are repelled by displays of vanity and gratified by any comeuppance visited
it must be leveled. Pride is usually condemned by both Eastern and Western
deities and ignores the relative insignificance of their mortal worshipers. The
graphically portrayed in the myth of Icarus, who flew so close to the sun that
his wax wings melted and he fell to earth.
Among the images and sayings concerning the humbling of pride, the most
familiar to Western readers are probably those in the Old and New Testa-
ments. Isaiah 40:4, the major text of Handels
proclaims the motif
70 ff.). John Bunyans
Pilgrims Progress
leads every Christian through the
Valley of Humiliation where he learns that, He that is down needs fear no
fall, / He that is low no pride (Bunyan 1986, 212). But the most widely known
literary portrait of pride is undoubtedly Miltons Satan, who was by the com-
mand of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep (
I, The Argument). Miltons Satan has a venerable lineage (Bloomfield
1967, 109), for believers have always asserted that his pride was the original
sin, since his fall from heaven preceded Adams fall from grace and was thus
the first Judeo-Christian example of pride brought low.
A Hasidic commentator summarizes the significance of the motif and il-
rdaining the Future
Bargain with Devil
Motif M210
The theme of a bargain or binding contract with the devil can be traced back to
the European Middle Ages. But the somewhat broader theme of the devil tempt-
ing human beings to imperil their souls in exchange for worldly riches or power
is, according to several scholars, much older. Such a conception of the devil as
exercising dominion over the worldly sphere is arguably rooted in a Judeo-
Christian dualistic worldview. Thus, if the devil was in charge of the earthly
realm, he could tempt humans to give up their souls (read: their allegiance to
God in the heavenly realm) in order to enjoy more worldly pleasures (Conway
1881; Kelly 1985). Horst and Ingrid Daemmrich trace this theme back to
Enoch, the Talmud, and the Cabbala (Daemmrich and Daemmrich 1987,
225), while Spivack (1988) sees its precursor in the Bible, first in the book of
Job and later in the Gospels with Satans temptation of Jesus Christ.
If not assumed and integrated, the shadow may become evil and destructive.
from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century have been found);
Paracelsus, the Swiss alchemist; Pope Sylvester II, who supposedly opened a
oracular head or a familiar in the form of a black dog (he died anyway)
More generally, in folklore the bargain with the devil motif (M210 and re-
lated motifs) is found in the traditions of many groups; it is related to a num-
ber of other motifs and figures in the plot of a host of folktales. In folktales,
the devil figure may overlap with that of the ogre, giant, or even Death per-
sonified. The theme appears in medieval exempla and literature such as the
Legenda Aurea
(1270) and includes motifs such as M212, Devil at gallows
repudiates his bargain with robber, and M217, Devil bargains to help man
win woman (Spivack 1988).
The contract with the devil (M211, Man sells soul to devil) serves as the
initial situation in several folktales, such as Types 330, 360, 361, 756B, 810,
and 812. For example, in Type 330,
The Smith Outwits the Devil,
a man agrees
child; Type 400,
The Man on a Quest for His Lost Wife,
in which a father
unwittingly pledges his son to a monster; and Type 425C,
in which a father may promise his daughter to the beast. The theme of
a son promised to Satan appears in medieval romances like
Robert the Devil
Sir Gowther,
both of which end with the childs redemption. This theme
is related to motif M219.1, Bargain with the devil for an heir, and S223,
Childless couple promise child to devil if they may only have one (Aarne
and Thompson 1987; Thompson 1977).
In Type 810,
The Snares of the Evil One,
a man is protected from the devil
by a priest who draws a magic circle around him. This story includes motif
M211, Man sells soul to devil, and appears in the Grimm (tale 92) and
Svend Grundtvig (number 59) collections from Germany and Denmark, re-
spectively. It appears to be especially popular in northern Europe and the
Baltics. Type 812,
The Devils Riddle,
concerns a mans success in outwitting
the devil by solving riddles. This may involve guessing the true nature of
enigmatic objects (examples include a gold cup that is really a cup of pitch
gives Death one of his children. This tale, Trading with Death, traveled
from Africa to places like Jamaica and French Guiana. In another text, The
Two Brothers, Death demands that the spider say his name before he will
give him meat. He then curses the spiders brother for having given him Deaths
female devil) to the disturbing
(in which an ostensible voodoo
plot is framed by a mans ill-fated bargain with Satan).
Natalie M. Underberg
Aarne, Antti, and Stith Thompson. 1987.
The Types of the Folktale.
Helsinki: Suomalainen
Burrows, David, Frederick Lapides, and John T. Shawcross. 1973.
Myths and Motifs in Litera-
New York: Free Press.
Carus, Paul. 1969.
The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil.
San Francisco, CA: Lands
Conway, Moncare. 1881.
Demonology and Devil-Lore.
Rev. ed. 2 vols. New York: Holt.
Daemmrich, Horst, and Ingrid Daemmrich. 1987.
Themes and Motifs in Western Literature.
Tbingen: Francke.
Dimic, Milan. 1988. Shadow. In
Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs,
ed. Jean-Charles
Motifs M400M462
Cursing can be understood as an attempt to call down evil upon God or
creatures, rational or irrational, living or dead (
1999). Thompson classifies curses as a subsection under Chapter M, Or-
In early Christianity, Saint Thomas addressed cursing under the term
Catholic Encyclopedia
explain, The outcast is the alienated character, the outsider, the criminal. . . .
the figures of Ishmael, the Wandering Jew, the Ancient Mariner, and the Fly-
ing Dutchman have been a part of our consciousness and unconsciousness
In ancient Greek mythology, Cassandra, famed as a seer, is cursed by Apollo
so that no one will ever believe her predictions again after she broke a prom-
ise of love to him. Her prophecies thus go unheeded, to the peril of the city of
Troy and of Agamemnon. The curse of Cassandra appears in Homers
as well as Vergils
(ca. 3019 BCE). Also in the
when Aeneas leaves Dido, Queen of Carthage, she places a curse on him and
In Greek mythology, a curse placed on Labdacus (father of Laius and grand-
father of Oedipus) and his progeny results in the ill fate of Laius, Oedipus,
In Shakespeares
Richard III
(M411.0.1) to family members cursing other family members (for example,
M411.1, Curse by parent). In the Child ballads, for example, jealous mothers
curse sons and thereby destroy them and their new families. In The Mothers
Malison (also known as Clydes Water, Child 216), the son refuses his
mothers request to stay at home with her, intending instead to spend the night
with his lady love. The mother utters this curse: Clydes waters wide and deep
enough; / My malison drown thee! (cited in Stewart 1993, 62). The son subse-
Church excommunicated members. This cursing ritual involved reading a
sentence, ringing a bell, closing a book, and extinguishing a candle (Jacob
Daughter Cursed at Birth,
are related to this motif. In the former (a
Greek subtype), a prophecy is made that at the age of sixteen a princess will ride
around a public square on an assthe prophecy is fulfilled when she is accused
of theft. In subtype 934E**, a barren queen is granted a child but simultaneously
does). This is an Icelandic variant (Aarne and Thompson 1987).
An important folk concept with regard to curses, seen especially in Irish
culture, is that curses are more powerful if uttered from a hilltop or other
elevated location. This idea is even incorporated into the text of one popular
Irish curseBlast you from a height (OFarrell 1995, 113)and is related
to motif M413.1, Curse given from a height. Will fall with full effect on
turned into a curse: a man is given any wish on the condition that his neighbor
is given double (he wishes to lose one eye). This story appears, for example,
in medieval Spanish exempla. Another bodily harm curse motif associated
with a folktale is M431.2, Curse: toads from mouth, which forms part of
Type 403,
The Black and White Bride,
and Type 480,
In the former, the story begins with a neglected stepdaughter com-
or jewels from her mouth. Her sister, however, acts unkindly in the same
situation and is made ugly and cursed with having toads drop from her mouth.
This story appears in Giambattista Basiles
Il Pentamerone
Type 480,
ends like Type 403 with the unkind
girl being punished with frogs falling from her mouth. This tale also appeared
Il Pentamerone,
as well as in the German Grimm (KHM 24), Danish
Grundtvig (no. 37), and Russian Afanasiev collections. The most versions of
this tale have been collected in Germany, Ireland, Russia, and Sweden (Aarne
and Thompson 1987).
Misfortune constitutes another main category of curses. Irish and Yiddish
curses offer pungent examples of these motifs. For example, an Irish curse
declares, That you may have forty-five ways of putting on your coat this
harvest-time, a wish that a person would be so poor that his or her clothes
would be ripped into rags (OFarrell 1995, 93). In Yiddish folklore, wishing a
bad year on someone is one of the most common kinds of curses, for ex-
Az yor oyf im vi er hot mir farrkht di mashn.
(May he have such a
year as the way he fixed my car!) (Matisoff 1979, 61). Such a curse reflects
the Jewish conception of the importance of a years luck (Matisoff 1979).
Similarly, in an Icelandic variant of Type 556B*,
Curse and Countercurse,
a curse is lifted, even people who have been bewitched for centuries do not
hesitate to marry their young saviors, for savior and saved exist on the same
level. . . . The otherworld of the folktale is not only a different dimension,
but in it the past stands at ease side by side with the present. (Lthi 1982, 22)
Scottish Highlander curses offer especially striking examples of family curses.
Lockhart posits that most Highland families probably have had a curse in
their history. He cites the Curse of the MAlisters as an illustration of one
such curse forecasting the end of a family line (Lockhart 1971). Similarly,
among the Badaga (a South Indian group), the most serious curse is:
(May you have no heirs!) (Hockings 1988, 152).
Finally, the death-curse is the most damning of all (M451, Curse: death
and related motifs). Again, Irish and Yiddish curses offer abundant examples
that can exist both as part and independently of folk narrative. Such curses often
reveal customs and beliefs on the part of the group that pronounces them. For
Bsna bpisn chugat!
The death of the kittens to you! refers to the
custom of drowning unwanted cats in Ireland and is an example of motif M451.2,
Death by drowning (Power 1974, 83). Another death curse that reveals an
Irish custom is Hungry grass grow around your grave because this would
prevent people from visiting the gravesite and thus saying prayers for the de-
ceased (OFarrell 1995, 76). Similarly, in Jewish tradition, wishing death on
someone else is, not surprisingly, the most serious of all curses. However, one
does not employ the word death (
) specificallyperhaps as a protection
against being seized by it oneself. Rather, the burial-ground, the earth (
di erd
invoked. Such curses figure in short anecdotes such as one in which a man tells
Aarne, Antti, and Stith Thompson. 1987.
The Types of the Folktale.
Helsinki: Suomalainen
Burrows, David, Frederick Lapides, and John T. Shawcross. 1973.
Myths and Motifs in Litera-
New York: Free Press.
Carus, Paul. 1969.
The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil.
San Francisco, CA: Lands
The Catholic Encyclopedia.
1999. Cursing,
Elkhadem, Saad. 1981.
The York Companion to Themes and Motifs of World Literature: My-
thology, History, and Folklore.
Fredericton, NB: York Press.
Frazer, Sir James. 1955.
The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion.
12 vols. New
York: St. Martins Press.
Hockings, Paul. 1988.
Counsel from the Ancients: A Study of Badaga Proverbs, Prayers, Omens
and Curses.
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hughes, Geoffrey. 1998.
Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in
London: Penguin Books.
Jacob, Dorothy. 1967.
Cures and Curses.
New York: Taplinger.
Lewes, Mary. 1911.
Stranger Than Fiction: Being Tales from the Byways of Ghosts and Folk-
London: W. Rider and Son.
Lockhart, John. 1971.
Curses, Lucks, and Talismans.
ance and Fate
Chance and Fate
Motifs N0N899
Chapter N is concerned with the large part that luck plays in narrative (and
life). Thompson covered wagers and gambling (N0N99), the nature of luck
and fate (N100N299), unlucky accidents (N300N399), lucky accidents
Belief in fate is founded in the universal apprehension that the world is
Fate in world folklore can be embodied in any number of ways (N110, Luck
and fate personified). Often fate is seen as a human figure or figures, particu-
by another fairys amendment). In many variants of the story, the childs par-
ents attempt to escape the fate of the spindle by having all spinning wheels
destroyed (M370, Vain attempts to escape fulfillment of prophecy).
are able to thwart or defy what fate has in store for them. In the story Godfa-
ther Death, mentioned above, the godson, in his role as physician, tries to
cheat Death, but Death takes him anyway, and he is horrified to see that his
candle is tiny; Death will not give him a larger one, but instead snuffs it out.
(AT 931,
) sees it as the conflict of free will versus fate. Despite the
precautions taken by Oedipuss parents and Oedipus himself to avoid the proph-
ecies that he would kill his father (M343, Parricide prophecy) and marry
his mother (M344, Mother-incest prophecy), his fate is inexorable and all
themes or overtones. Basile
(1932) pr
esents a common example in his tale
The Young Slave, in which the sister of the Baron Serva-scura is the only
woman able to jump over a rose bush and thus must marry her brother.
Gamblers can enlist the aid of the supernatural, as for example D1407, Magic
object helps gambler win; D1407.3, Magic game board helps win; and N6.1,
Luck in gambling from compact with devil. There are also tales of gambling
with a supernatural adversary (N3), a god (N3.1), or the devil (N4).
Pushkins short story The Queen of Spades (1833) is a haunting tale of
gambling and the supernatural. During a long winters evening of card play-
ing, a young Russian nobleman, Tomsky, tells the story of his grandmother,
granted power of winning at cards). Unfortunately, he does not heed the
restrictions and the third time he plays he loses everything and goes out of his
mind. Unlike poor Hermann, many protagonists in North American Indian
tales are successful in gambling (N1.2, Conquering gambler. Bankrupt gam-
The Girl as Helper in the Heros Flight
). The latter is well
known from the Greek myth telling of Jasons quest for the Golden Fleece
and the help he receives from Medea. In many manifestations of this motif,
the girl is able to raise up obstacles or change shape in order to facilitate
Animals are helpers in numerous tales, especially in AT 553 (
Raven Helper
Grateful Animals
In these stories, the youngest of three brothers is
kind to animals and in gratitude they tell him to call upon them should he
need help. With their help, he successfully performs various seemingly im-
possible tasks (H982), such as sorting a large amount of grain in one night
(B548.2.1) or recovering an object from the sea (H1132.1.1, Fish recovers
key [or ring, B548.2.2] from sea).
Menninger, Karl. 1992.
Number Words and Number Symbols: A Cultural History of Numbers.
Mineola. New York: Dover.
Parrinder, Geoffrey. 1986.
African Mythology.
New York: Harper and Row.
Pourrat, Henri. 1989.
French Folktales.
New York: Pantheon.
Pushkin, Alexander. 1968 [1833].
Trans. Rosemary
Edmonds. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
The Saga of Volsungs.
1990. Trans. Jesse L. Byock. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Snorri Sturlusons Edda.
1998. Trans. Anthony Faulkes. London: Everyman.
Stamer, Barbara, ed. 1990.
Types of Fate.
Frankfurt am Main: Fischer.
Choice of Roads
Motif N122.0.1, and Crossroads, Various Motifs
Ways of luck and fate, N100N299.
Throughout the world, the places where roads diverged or crossed have
been regarded as unlucky or dangerous because of the presence of evil spirits,
and in an effort to propitiate these spirits, deities have often been worshipped
Other tale types involving choice of roads include AT 300,
The Dragon-
and AT 303,
The Twins or Blood-Brothers
(N772, Parting at cross-
roads to go on adventures). These tale types are often combined. In his
Folktales of Germany,
Ranke gives a tale called The Three Brothers, which
is a combination of these two as well as Type 304,
The Hunter.
In it three
Emily Dickinsons poem (xxii) in
Poems, Second Series
of life as a journey, with coming to a fork in the road signaling impending death:
Our journey had advanced;
could but have made out. (Sergeant 1960, 8788)
Murder and Burial at Crossroads
is, in fact, his father. Only later, when Jocasta tells Oedipus that King Laius
himself to death deliberately! (cited in Gates 1988, 8). In Thomas Hardys
short story The Grave at the Handpost (1897), the members of a choir,
walking out to sing just before midnight one night near Christmas, see men
working at a newly dug grave and they immediately understand whose it is.
The choir knew no particularsonly that [Sergeant Holway] had shot him-
Guardians of the Crossroads
The divinities associated with crossroads were almost always deities of dark-
ness. Among the ancient Greeks, the goddess Hecate was commonly por-
trayed in triple form with faces turned in three directions. Representations of
The crossroads figures in the Faust myth, an elaboration of the very old
motif of the Bargain with the devil (M211). The character of Faust, who
sells his soul to the devil, seems to have been based on an actual person. A
chapbook published in Frankfurt in 1587 called
Historia von D. Johann Fausten
not only the Holy Scriptures, but also the sciences of medicine, mathemat-
ics, astrology, sorcery, prophesy, and necromancy. . . . These pursuits aroused
in him a desire to commune with the Devil, sohaving made the necessary
evil preparationshe repaired one night to a crossroads in the Spesser For-
example, C614, Forbidden road. All roads may be taken except one), see
Jane Garry
Ashliman, D.L. 2001. The Faust Legend,
Chew, Samuel. 1962.
The Pilgrimage of Life.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Gates, Barbara T. 1988 [1949].
Victorian Suicide: Mad Crimes and Sad Histories.
Wise Old Man/Woman
Various Motifs
Found in mythology, legend, folktales, and literature, the wise old man or woman
is a protective figure who comes to the aid of the hero in his or her journey or
quest. For those who have not refused the call, writes Joseph Campbell, the
first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure (often a little old
Campbell gives an example of the wise old woman in the East African
legend of Kyazimba, in which a desperately poor man is searching for the
land where the sun rises. On his journey, he encounters a decrepit little woman
who, on learning the nature of his quest, wraps her garment around him and
magically soars, transporting him above the earth to the zenith of the sun.
There she intercedes for Kyazimba with a brilliant chieftain who sits feasting
many other North American Indian test and hero tales, an unnamed woman,
usually referred to as grandmother, advises the hero how to kill monsters,
escape from dangerous situations, what path to take, how to overcome ob-
his knowledge of the past and future to help young Arthur defeat his enemies
and establish the Round Table (Elkhadem 1981, 138). Perhaps Merlin was the
model for the wizard Gandalf, who guides the hobbit Frodo on his perilous
quest to deliver the magic ring to its source in J.R.R. Tolkiens
Apart from wisdom, the old man or woman often embodies a moral di-
mension as well: he or she will test a character and then reward or punish that
character. Kindness and charity are rewarded while churlishness and selfish-
ness are punished. There are many tales of this type (AT 480,
The Spinning
Women by the Spring. The Kind and the Unkind Girls
known is the Grimms tale Mother Holle (KHM 24), and Thompson notes
that variants are found over nearly the whole world. (Thompson 1979, 126)
Psychologically, the figure of the wise old man or woman in these tales repre-
Sister and Brother
Motif P253
the mundane to the spectacular and from the licit to the illicit. The sibling
Clever Boy.
Peik with his fooling-sticks, in which a trickster, with his sister
as confederate, seduces the daughters and/or wives of the rich and powerful
in his community. Also, the brother-sister theme is underreported in
The Three
(AT 707, III, d) in which a sister rescues her brother(s) (e.g.,
The earth opens and swallows her up (Motif R327, Earth opens to rescue
fugitive; F942.3.1, Earth opens at womans bidding to enclose her). . . .
She goes along under the earth until she comes to the hut of Baba Yaga (the
the witch (G530.2, Help from ogres daughter (son)).
The two girls seize the old woman and put her in the oven, thus escaping
the witchs persecution (cf. AT 1121,
Ogres Wife Burned in His Own Oven
They reach the princes castle, where the sister is recognized by her brothers
servant. But her brother cannot tell the two girls apart, they are so alike
(Motif H161.0.1, Recognition of person among identical companions).
So the servant advises him to make a test: the prince is to fill a skin with
blood and put it under his arm. The servant will then stab him in the side
with a knife and the prince is to fall down as if dead (Motif K1875, Decep-
tion by sham blood. [By stabbing bag of blood, trickster makes dupe think
T611.1.2); this motif recurs in many Egyptian renditions of AT 707 (El-
Ordinary mortals copied the practice of their deities and divine kings, whose
universal custom in Egypt was for the brother to marry one of his sisters. The
custom of these marriages, which to us appear incestuous, was so firmly seated
that the Ptolemies eventually complied with it. The celebrated Cleopatra had
her two brothers in succession as husbands.
In Greek mythology, Zeus, god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods,
is also husband to his sister Hera, with whom he fathers Ares, the god of war;
Hebe, the goddess of youth; Hephaestus, the god of fire; and Eileithvia, the
goddess of childbirth. It is reported that Zeus and Hera had their first sexual
of AT 613 was done on the basis of the shared theme of magic healing, rather
than the flight of brother and sister to escape incest. Additionally, the classifier
(Thompson) perceived the female protagonist as a daughter to a father rather
than as a sister to a brother. Consequently, this classification is nonsystemic.
However, the description of the contents of AT 613C* provides evidence of
its presumed link (or parallelism) to our present narrative-complex.
A king with seven sons and seven daughters wants his sons to marry his daugh-
ters but the youngest son and daughter do not agree to this plan and leave.
They sleep under a tree. The daughter has a dream about an ill king who could
be healthy again if he takes a bath in the water coming from that tree. [The
sister (daughter) masks as a man and, along with her brother, heals the king,
who marries her afterward.] (Aarne and Thompson 1961/1964).
The tale type and the myth share the following pivotal themes: the number of
brothers and sisters, the demand by the father, the rejection of the incestuous
marriage by the children, and the healing of the king (which appears at the
narrative-complex) (Burton 1885
Shohei Imamura is reported to have used the Shinto creation myth (cited
above) as an emotional backdrop for the film. The plots protagonists in-
clude a brother and sister who are lovers; the sister is regarded as a shamaness
by her tribe. In local legend, a similar union spawned the islands early
population. Kim argues that in older times such an incestuous union would
not have been seen as a serious violation of social mores. Currently, how-
ever, the spread of modern values makes the lovers fellow tribal folk ashamed
of their old customs. Consequently, they persecute the siblings for breaking
In the motion picture trilogy
Star Wars,
The Empire Strikes Back,
Kim, Nelson. 2003.
Lukianowicz, N. 1972. Incest.
British Journal of Psychiatry
120: 301313.
Mahfz, Nagb. 1991, 2001 (Cairo trilogy): 1 (1991):
Palace of Desire
(Bayna al-Qasrayn).
Trans. William Maynard Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, Olive E. Kenny. Egypt: American
University in Cairo Press; 2 (1991):
Palace Walk
(Qasr al-Shawq). Trans. William Maynard
Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday; 3 (2001):
Step Relatives
Motif P280
Stepmothers hate their husbands children. This proverbial statement from
181; AT 510A,
) expresses a sentiment found in thousands of tales
around the world. There are many reasons why fairy-tale villains are so often
To begin with, mortality rates were very high in the preindustrial times
when most traditional fairy tales were evolving. Economic pressure to re-
marry quickly following the death of a spouse led to many matrimonial mis-
matches, or at least the expectations of the twenty-first century would label
them as such. Substantial differences in emotional makeup and age were com-
mon. For a child to have a stepparent was not unusual, and often the replace-
ment parent would be quite unlike the deceased one. But why are the female
traditional storytellers? This familiar observation is at first view all the more
rily by women. One explanation is socialization, for in a strongly patriarchal
remains unmentioned. In too many tales to enumerate, the widowed father,
having taken a new wife, simply disappears from the storytellers view, and
Ramanujan, A.K. 1991.
Folktales from India: A Selection of Oral Tales from Twenty-two
New York: Pantheon Books.
Steel, Flora Annie. 1894.
Tales of the Punjab: Told by the People.
London: Macmillan.
Thang, Vo Van, and Jim Lawson. 1993.
Rewards and Punishments
The Kind and Unkind
Motif Q2
The motif of the kind and the unkind (Q2, Churlish person disregards re-
est brother or sister) complies and is rewarded) is also found in multiple tale
types, the most famous being AT 480,
The Spinning Woman at the Well.
Thompson notes that a cursory examination of appropriate bibliographical
works shows nearly six hundred versions of this tale type (1977, 126). While
addressing uncomfortable family problems such as parent-child hostility and
sibling rivalry, this folktale tests the hero or heroines character (H1550, Tests
of character)specifically, kindness (Q40, Kindness rewarded), generos-
ity (Q42, Generosity rewarded), and politeness (Q41, Politeness rewarded).
Tales about kind and unkind girls follow a typical plotline. A stepmother
mistreats her good stepdaughter and dotes upon her selfish, impolite, and
usually ugly daughter (S31, Cruel stepmother; B848.2.1, Stepmother mis-
treats girl). The good daughter is kind and polite to a supernatural being.
that is a symbolic representation of their inner nature, such as receiving a box
sparrow (China and Japan), a troll (Norway), a bear (Russia and southwest
American Indian), fairies (Spain), a mermaid (Brittany), the twelve months
(Greece and Italy), little men in the woods (Germany and Chile), three heads
in a well (England), and a boy (Africa). The German Mother Holle also sug-
gests the embodiment of a nature figure, as the act of shaking her feather
quilt, or pillows, influences snowfall (A1135.2.1, Snow from feathers or
in variants of Strawberries in the Snow, the child sent out into the forest in
she is tested (Motif H1550, Tests of character) and rewarded (Q40, Kindness
all over the world and is classified as AT 480,
The Spinning Woman at the Well.
twelve months (Z122.3, Twelve months as youths seated about fire; Z122.4,
The four seasons personified).
The tests in AT 480 tales are generally simple deeds, requiring no magical
rewarded). The inhospitable neighbors have their homes destroyed by a
natural catastrophe (Q292, Inhospitality punished). The lesson here is that
in being kind to human beings, you may find yourself being kind to gods
A second test is often inserted in this story, the selection of a large, medium-
and her husband (Seki 1963, 120125). Whereas the bad neighbors in this
henna, a ceremony marking a brides separation from her family upon her
marriage (Bushnaq 1986). In dAulnoys Beauty with the Golden Hair, the
hero Avenant saves a carp, a crow, and an owl, who assist him in finding a
queens ring, killing a giant, and obtaining magical water (Zipes 1989; see
also dAulnoy 1997). In the Chinese tale, The Gratitude of the Snake, a boy
heals an injured snake, which later save his life (Eberhard 1965).
Otherworld Journeys.
Bushnaq, Indea, trans. 1986.
Arab Folktales.
New York: Pantheon.
dAulnoy, Marie-Catherine, comtesse. 1997.
Intro. Jacques Barchilon; ed. Philippe
Hourcade. Paris: Socit des textes modernes.
Eberhard, Wolfram, ed. 1965.
Folktales of China.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Fedorchek, Robert M., trans. 2003. Juan Valera: The Queen Mother.
17 (2): 262268.
Captives and Fugitives
Motifs R10R99
Listed under Captives and Fugitives, motifs of kidnapping or abduction by
she will never more part. The devil hoists the wife on his back and runs down
to hell. Of course, she is such a shrew that the devil ends up bringing her back to
her husband, remarking, I have been a tormentor the whole of my life, / But I
neer was tormented so as with your wife (Child 1965, 108, version A). This
song was brought to the United States, where numerous variants were collected.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of the most famous and haunting
images from Greek myth is the abduction to the underworld of the maiden
Persephone, who is grabbed by Hades, lord of the dead, as she is gathering
flowers in a meadow (R10.1, Princess (maiden) abducted). Another crucial
abduction in Greek myth is that of Helen, wife of King Menelaus, by Paris,
which is the cause of the Trojan War (some scholars including Thompson, char-
)Abduction of a maiden by a monster or an ogre (R11.1) is an importantmotif in several tale types (AT 301, 301A, 301B, 302, 311, 312). A repre-
sentative tale, Fitchers Bird (Fitchers Vogel, KHM 46; Type 311,
), was collected by the Grimms: There was once a wizard
who used to take the form of a poor man, and went to houses and begged, and
avowals, Ravana subjects her to an ordeal by fire (H221, Ordeal by fire.
(Doniger 2002, 105).
In some stories, it is the hero who abducts a princess, for example in
ful John
(AT 516). Versions of this story have been collected all over Europe
as well as in Turkey, India, the Middle East, South America, and the West
Indies. With the help of his faithful servant, a king abducts a princess after he
has fallen helplessly in love with her portrait in a room of his fathers castle
that he was warned not to enter (C611, Forbidden chamber). Mozarts op-
The Abduction From the Seraglio
by the eagle makes a string from the sinews of the little birds he brings her to eat
and she slides down from his nest and escapes; the girl held by the whale is
rescued by her two brothers who come for her in a boat (Thompson 1929, 160
161). The latters escape involves the obstacle flight (D672), in which she throws
objects behind as they flee in order to distract and slow down the pursuer.
A story from the Tahltan Indians of Canada tells how a woman whose
the water to wash away the blood, she is pulled underneath and taken to
the underwater kingdom of the killer whales. The husband enlists the aid
One of the most widespread categories of abduction is by fairies (F320, Fair-
ies carry people away to fairyland). Tales of captives taken to fairyland are
especially prominent in the British Isles. Mortals, particularly attractive young
they are enthralled by a fairy suitor, venture into a fairy hill, or are inveigled
into eating fairy food or drink (C211.1, Tabu: eating in fairyland). Infants
Zeus changes himself into a bull (Motif D101, Transformation: god to animal)
According to several of the Irish folklorists, young men are often kid-
napped for their physical strength, to serve as bond-slaves and as partici-
pants in sports and faction-battles, since the elfin peoples are thought to be
strong in brain but weak in brawn. However, medieval accounts of Thomas
the Rhymer and similar figures suggest other, more typical motives. For
example, Thomas is seduced and abducted by the beautiful Queen of Elfland,
But it is babies and young and beautiful children that the fairies are
most apt to steal. The thought is that such children are necessary to im-
prove the fairy breed, since fairy women have much trouble in conceiving
and in childbirth. Some people believed that since the fairies have to pay
a tithe to the devil every seven years, they prefer to use human children as
sacrifices rather than their own. Still others suggested that since the fair-
ies fate at Judgment Day is uncertain, they need mortals to stand up and
plead for them. Whatever the reason, accounts of the theft of babies are
widespread over the British Isles, France, Germany, and Scandinavia.
recollected under hypnosis that they had been abducted to a flying saucer
and subjected to sexual experimentation.
Whitley Striebers account of his own repeated abductions in
his best seller of 1987, made both the imagery and the experience common-
place in American popular culture. Striebers tale of repeated and terrifying
kidnappings in which he was paralyzed, carried off by three-foot worker al-
iens, taken to a mysterious round chamber where his mind was read by larger
alien leaders wielding wands and his body sexually probed by a large-eyed
piqued the interest of the American public.
Now very much a part of our popular culture, abduction accounts continue
to stream insupplemented by new alien phenomena such as circles and
signs. It is even possible to purchase UFO abduction insurance, as did the
Heavens Gate cultists.
Critics relate these stories to the near-death experience, contagious hyste-
ria, or some real but peculiar experiences. Many think that it is linked to
dissociative disorders or multiple personality disorders. In people who suffer
Doniger, Wendy. 2002. Ramayana. In
The Epic Voice
, ed. Alan D. Hodder and Robert E.
Meagher. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Grimms Household Tales
. With the Authors Notes. 1968 [1884]. Trans. Margaret Hunt.
nnatural Cruelty
Cruel Parents
Motif S10
Kinder- und Hausmrchen
Childrens and Household Tales
), the title se-
lected by the Grimm brothers for their famous collection, was well chosen,
but although fairy tales may largely be about and for children, youngsters
of the Volsungs
(1990) offers a case in point (ch. 6). Sigyn, doubting her two
young sons courage, stitches their shirt cuffs to their wrists. Crying out in pain,
they fail this ordeal, and a second test as well, so Signy has them killed.
An even crueler test, documented in countless legends from northern Eu-
meat. Three years outlawry will be the penalty for open violations, but if
credible counterparts, legends. The account of the birth of Helga the Fair, the
leading female character in the Icelandic
Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
(Hreinsson 1997, 1: 305333), offers a compelling example. At the beginning
of the story, we read that her father, a powerful chieftain, was wise, tolerant,
and just in all things. His wisdom, tolerance, and justice notwithstanding, he
instructs his pregnant wife, You are soon going to have a baby. Now if you
have a girl, it must be left out to die, but if it is a boy it will be brought up (ch.
1). However, the episode has a happy ending. The woman does give birth to a
girl, but cannot bring herself to abandon the child. Instead, she gives the in-
fant to relatives to raise, telling her husband that his order has been carried
A childs mutilation by her own father is a vivid symbol of any unspeak-
able act. In some versions of this tale, the horrible deed is precipitated, not by
a fathers desperate effort to save himself, but by his unsuccessful attempts to
seduce his daughter. In their commentary on the
Childrens and Household
the Grimms relate another version of this tale in which the father, an-
gered by his daughters refusal to marry him, cuts off her hands and her breasts,
then sends her into the world to fend for herself (1856, 3:5758; Motif Q451.1,
Hands cut off as punishment).
Even more abhorrent to most humans than mutilation is the act of canni-
balism, and more than a few folklore sources depict parents eating their own
children, usually tricked into doing so by their spouses. An example from
Norse mythology is found in
The Saga of the Volsungs.
Gudrun (known in
The Nibelungenlied
as Kriemhild) holds her husband Atli (known elsewhere
as Attila the Hun) responsible for the death of her brothers. To extract re-
venge, she seizes her and Atlis two sons as they play by their beds, slits their
throats, then serves their blood, mixed with wine, and their roasted hearts to
their unsuspecting father (G61, Relatives flesh eaten unwittingly).
My mother killed me; my father ate me are two lines from a folksong
involving a stepmother, she is motivated by jealousy. In
The Saga of the
the mother kills her children to punish her husband. In The Satin
Olesch, Reinhold. 1980.
Russische Volksmrchen.
Dsseldorf: Eugen Diederichs Verlag.
Cruel Spouses
Motif S60
Cruel spouses, especially husbands, are a common fixture in international
folktales, and domestic violence against a wife is seldom condemned. One of
the rare folktales that criticizes a husbands
arbitrary cruelty toward his wife,
while at the same time depicting a woman more clever than her husband, is AT
The Wife Who Would Not Be Beaten,
from India (Bompas 1909, no. 28).
Told throughout the Indian subcontinent, this tale opens with the matter-
of-fact sentence, There was once a rajas son who announced that he would
marry no woman who would not allow him to beat her every morning and
evening. He finds a woman who agrees to this condition, but when he first
raises a stick against her, she chides him, saying that because he has his wealth
and position only through inheritance, he does not deserve to beat her until he
The tale opens when Allah grants a man the ability to understand the lan-
guage of animals with the condition that, under penalty of death, he keep this
9:9; AT 910A,
Wise Through Experience
their sight. The king, now recognizing that he has married an ogress, has her
put to death, brings the other seven wives back to the palace, andthe sto-
ryteller assures useverybody lived happily. Thus the temptress who se-
duced the husband into an unspeakably cruel act against his other wives is
executed, but the man who actually performed the wicked deed is not so
This double standard of morality is nowhere more evident than in most
cultures attitudes toward extramarital relations, which for men typically are
condoned, but for women almost universally are condemned. Punishments,
as depicted in folklore, for women caught in adultery give new meaning to the
legal term
cruel and unusual.
One such penalty often featured by medieval
and Renaissance writers, including Boccaccio (1972, 4:9; AT 992,
Bompas, Cecil Henry. 1909.
Folklore of the Santal Parganas.
London: David Nutt.
Burton, Richard F., trans. 18851888.
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night: A Plain
and Literal Translation of The Arabian Nights Entertainments.
10 vols. plus 6 supplemen-
tal vols. Privately printed by the Burton Club.
Grimm, Jacob. 1899.
Deutsche Rechtsalterthmer.
Abandoned or Murdered Children
Motifs S300S399
Even if the child survives the ordeal of abandonment, as Oedipus does, the
results are seldom happy. Abandonment is often associated with fear, jeal-
ousy, or dislike of the child or with deep poverty and looming hunger (S321)
or the potential death of the adults in the family.
Tales of burying children alive in the foundations of buildings or bridges
convey the sense that this is a terrible, though oddly necessary sacrifice of an
The Hxter Ghost,
for example) that arises out of a supersti-
their own ability and cunning (1976, 65). Another tale of abandonment in
the literary fairy tale tradition, Snow White (AT 709; Motif S322.4.2, Evil
stepmother orders stepdaughter to be killed), involves a child who seems
unable to help herself, but survives anyway.
Even in cases when the children do not save themselves, the culprit is often
revealed. A tale that has a key element of revealing the murder of the child is
AT 780,
The Singing Bone.
The singing bones appear in stories by the Grimm
brothers, and in tales from Italy, Russia, England, Nigeria, and Switzerland.
Unlike the boy in AT 720, restoration of the dead child is not usually the
outcome (the Russian story The Silver Plate and the Transparent Apple is
an exception). Justice, however belatedly, comes to the murderers (Q211,
Murder punished). The murder is usually the result of sibling treachery
who finds a particular object. Jealousy because one sibling possesses an ob-
ject the others desire can also be the motivation to murder.
and raised by surrogates. From Geoffrey de Latour Landry,
Der Ritter vom Turn
left with exposed child). Miranda of
The Tempest
Persecuted Wife
Motifs S410S451
according to three principal types of narratives. In the first case, the heroines
whose advances she rebuffs. In the second, jealous female characters (sisters,
mother-in-law, or friends) replace the heroines child or children with ani-
mals, usually dogs, leading to her ostracism. Finally, the third type of narra-
tive revolves around the husband testing his wifes endurance in particularly
cruel ways, a story historically used as an exemplum of the perfect wife.
Medieval tradition abounds in stories of wives unjustly accused of adultery.
According to Roger M. Walker, the tale of Crescentia, more appropriately
known as the Conte de la femme chaste convoite par son beau-frre (Tale
of the chaste woman desired by her brother-in-law), typically adheres to the
following plotline: a husband goes on a trip and leaves his brother with his
wife; the brother desires his sister-in-law, and she rejects him; the brother
accuses his sister-in-law of adultery; the wife is condemned to be beaten and
killed; she is rescued by a passerby, or flees; the heroine acquires healing
powers; in the end, she is reconciled with her husband (1982, 23). The two
and the
Chanson de Florence,
with the latter source providing a version of the story
in which one of the husbands men proves the wifes accuser wrong, and it is
the brother-in-law, not the wife, who is banished.
The story of Hildegard, Charlemagnes wife, comes out of the Crescentia
tradition. In Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms rendition, Charlemagnes stepbrother
Taland attempts to seduce Hildegard during Charlemagnes absence, and she
In the second type of tale concerning the persecuted wife (AT 707,
The Three
), jealous women replace the wifes newborns with animals in
order to incite the heroines husband to repudiate, imprison, or kill her. Sto-
ries about the Swan Knight, a champion of unknown origin who wins a
princesss hand, fused with a Germanic fairy tale about children who change
into swans when their necklaces are removed (Remy 1910). This hybrid story
became the model for European versions of the wife calumniated by the ap-
pearance of having given birth to animals. According to the Grimms version
of the medieval legend, Oriant, the son of King Pyrion and Queen Matabruna,
marries Beatrix. In order to rid herself of a daughter-in-law of unknown birth,
Matabruna plans to murder Beatrixs seven babiesall born with silver chains
around their necksand replace them with seven puppies. Believing his
mothers accusations that Beatrix had intercourse with dogs, Oriant impris-
ons his wife. In the meantime, an old hermit raises the seven children. But
Matabruna discovers that the children are alive and sends a hunter off to kill
them. However, the hunter, not wishing to harm the children, removes their
necklaces to bring back to the queen as proof of their death. The children turn
into swans. In the end, one of Beatrixs sons, Helias, defends his mothers
honor, the truth is revealed, and Matabruna is burned at the stake (Grimm
In the sixteenth-century tale Ancilotto, King of Provino, Straparola has
the evil mother-in-law conspire with the heroines two sisters. The heroine,
ostracized when her husband learns she gave birth to puppies. The storys
envious neighbor announces that the woman therefore must have had inter-
course with two men. Adultery is combined with the monstrous birth of
twins. Despite the good womans virtue, her husband begins to mistrust her,
and he guards her as if she were in prison. Ironically, the neighbor herself
becomes pregnant with twins (1986, 6167). In The Story of the Three Apples
Arabian Nights,
sends them to a kinswoman. Then the marquis repudiates Griselda, allegedly
due to her low birth, and sends her back to her father with only a shift to cover
her nudity. Years later, the marquis calls Griselda back to court, only to test
cannot be separated from his critique of cultured aristocratic women, whom
he viewed as uncontrollable and corrupt and to whom he opposed Griselidis,
the natural and domesticated woman whose will is that of her husband
(Duggan 2001, 151153). Given the publishing history and wide diffusion of
the tale, it clearly was being used as a pedagogical instrument to inculcate
women of all classes with the notion that patiently obeying even cruel hus-
bands can eventually lead to happiness, thus reaffirming the unconditional
authority of the husband in the home.
While other types of narratives concerning the persecuted wife often in-
dAulnoy, Marie-Catherine. 1998.
ed. Philippe Hourcade. Paris: Socit des Textes
Duggan, Anne E. 2001. Nature and Culture in the Fairy Tale of Marie-Catherine dAulnoy.
Marvels & Tales
15.2: 149164.
Golenistcheff-Koutouzoff, Elie. 1933.
Conception and Birth
Motifs T500T599
well as adults since the beginning of time. Notions of how one might con-
ceive are as vast and diverse as the human imagination. Many motifs on this
subject are classified in the
under Chapter T, Sex, which contains
motifs on wooing, sexual relations, marriage, and the birth of children.
There is an extensive listing of miraculous conceptions (T510), and since
extraordinary conceptions often precede the birth of extraordinary beings,
many of these conceptions belong to stories about demigods and heroes and
A common example of miraculous conception is through eating (T511),
including the consumption of various fruits, flowers, roots, and leaves. Also
sunlight (T521), moonlight (T521.1), and falling rain (T522). In his celebrated
The Myth of the Birth of the Hero,
One of the best-known miraculous conceptions is that of the Virgin Mary, who
gave birth to Christ, son of God. A foundational myth of Christianity, the idea of
a virgin becoming pregnant nevertheless has perplexed many, as Barbara
Hanawalt contends in her discussion of medieval English folk songs (1980,
The Miracle,
in which Anna Magnani stars as a simple peas-
Are Curved, seems to combine the latter theme with conception from eating
Brmond, and Velay-Vallantin 1989, 141154).
Concerns about the process of pregnancy have also made their way into
folk and fairy tales. Viewed in certain traditions in terms of sin, maternal
husband discharges, she pulls out a neighbors newborn. Believing he has
given birth, the husband flees to Damascus in shame, but eventually the couple
are reconciled (Burton 1887). Although few examples exist of successful male
pregnancy, Zapperi has pointed out that in medieval European iconography,
Eve emerging from Adams side represents a most powerful image of a man
giving birth (Zapperi 1991, 332).
Tales in the tradition of the Swan Knight provide examples of stories in which
Burton, Richard F. 1887. Tale of the Kadih Who Bore a Child.
Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night.
Monstrous Births
Motifs T550T557
Found under Chapter T, Sex, Monstrous births is a large cross-cultural head-
flesh (T551.1.1.), with two heads (T551.2), or without mouths (T551.6). It
also includes hybrids such as babies born with limbs or heads of animals
(T551.3T551.3.4.2), those who are half human and half fish (T551.5), and
those who are human and demon or alien blends (T556). Children who have
unusual powers (T550.2), have adult characteristics (T551.13.2), or are ab-
normally large or small at birth (T553) are also classed as monstrous.
Seeing monstrous births as portents of divine will was a belief commonly
shared in ancient, medieval, and early modern periods in Europe, Asia, and the
Americas. Only after the scientific revolution in the West in the sixteenth and
Birth of the monsters whom Killer-of-Enemies, Jicarilla Apache culture
hero, kills before the Apache are created, is specifically accounted for by
the Jicarilla Apache. Among the First People were women who misbe-
haved, became pregnant, and give birth to a Giant Elk, a monster eagle, a
kicking monster, the two running rocks, a monster rock (Flint Man), Big
Owl, a giant fishall of whom Killer-of-Enemies disposes of. (Wheeler-
Voegelin 1972, 743)
was brought to a civil trial in Boston in November 1637 for sedition; a church
trial for heresy would follow. Hutchinson was, in addition to a preacher, a
skilled midwife and mother of twelve children. She was apparently pregnant
during her church trial, but either miscarried or had a tumor which she ex-
pelled. What is more certain is that her close friend and follower, Mary Dyer,
had given birth to a premature, deformed infant in October 1637, and
Hutchinson had been present at the birth. Writing many years later, Cotton
Mather affirmed in
Magnalia Christi Americana
(1702) that Mary Dyer was
delivered of as hideous a monster as perhaps the sun ever lookt upon. It had
no head: the face was below upon the breast: the ears were like an apes, and
grew upon the shoulders. . . . it had on each foot three claws, with taleons
like a fowl. . . . The midwife was one strongly suspected of witchcraft. (cited
The Jersey Devil, or Leeds Devil, is a Devil Baby legend associated with
the southern New Jersey pine barrens. The legend, said to originate in 1740,
involves Mother Leedsa suspected witch or, in some versions, a woman
more like American Indian monsters than humanoid figures as in most other
Devil Baby legends, although some of its features, such as cloven hoofs and a
pointed tail, suggest a human/Devil blend.
Another famous version of the Devil Baby legend localized itself at Hull-
example, report that a child born of a vampire father and a human mother will
have no bones and will die shortly after birth (Wilson 1970). This belief is an
example of a related motif, C101, Sex tabu broken: Child born without bones.
In macabre variations of widespread Japanese legends about a ghostly
mother feeding her living child, children are made monstrous because they
are born posthumously in their mothers coffins. In
Ghosts and the Japanese:
Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends,
Iwasaka and Toelken present
a story about an
(the ghost of a mother who gave birth to her baby
after she was buried):
When they dug her up, they found not only that there wasnt any change in
the color of her skin but also saw that she was clutching a little baby dressed
in funeral clothes. This baby had a curved back, and had a rice cake in his
hand and was licking it. Apparently the baby had been born after the womans
burial and had survived somehow. (1994, 64)
Iwasaka and Toelken note what might not be apparent to non-Japanese read-
ers, that the storyline itself may go back to an older (but residually persis-
tent) idea that it is the baby who is the powerful and dangerous entity. The
baby born in the grave, and thus unritualized as a newcomer . . . , is a potential
The Devil in Legend and Literature.
Chicago: Open Court Press.
Skinner, Charles M. 1896.
Myths and Legends of Our Own Land.
Vol. 1. Philadelphia: J.P.
Smith, Norman R. 1980. Portent Lore and Medieval Popular Culture.
Journal of Popular
14: 4759.
Sullivan, Jeremiah J., and James F. McCloy. 1974. The Jersey Devils Finest Hour.
New York
Folklore Quarterly
30 (3): 233239.
Villa, Susie Hoogasian. 1966.
One Hundred Armenian Tales and Their Folkloric Relevance.
Various Motifs in A (and T)
In almost all cultures, incest is viewed as the ultimate tabu that, according to
Claude Lvi-Strauss, is at the foundation of human culture itself. While it is
often portrayed in terms of shame and horror, incest can be viewed positively
extremely common in creation myths around the world. Usually, incest be-
only two, then their offspring had no choice but to mate with siblings. A myth
from the Kabyl people of North Africa tells that the first humans were a man
and a woman who had fifty children, half boys and half girls. When mature,
they married (A1552.3, Brother-sister marriage of children of first parents),
and thus the entire human race has descended from twenty-five brother-sister
unions (Frobenius and Fox 1937, 4957).
The first book of Moses (Genesis 4:117) implies a similar beginning.
Although only two of Adam and Eves first children are named, there must
have been more, for Cain, after killing his brother Abel, lay with Abels wife
and had a son. The Bible does not identify this unnamed woman as Cains
sister, but at least two folktales (Sheykh-Zada 1886, 395; Hanauer 1935, 240
241) specifically state that each brother had a twin sister. God directed each
one to marry the others twin, but Cain, perceiving his own twin sister to be
more beautiful, rejected Gods order, thus bringing about the conflict that
Famously, in Egyptian mythology, Osiris marries his sister Isis, and brother-
himself to finding another woman. This is an unusual example in myth of the
incest tabu enforced.
In the Norse creation myth, the giant Ymir produces a man and a woman
positive terms. In The Incest of Wenebojos Grandparents, a sister sleeps
with her brother at night without his knowledge. When the brother discovers
he has been having intercourse with his sister, he is ashamed and sends his
sister through a hole in the earth to punish her. When the sister comes out the
other side, she must promise a turtle the daughter she carries. Wenebojo is the
The folktale Kora and His Sister, from India (Bompas 1909, no. 50), ap-
them both into the sky. The sister becomes the sun and the brother the moon.
She stays away from him as best she can, coming out only when he is not present
that her child will destroy their people. Acting on this dream, she and her
with his father displaced onto his uncle.
Bernard, Catherine. 1979 [1687].
Les Malheurs de lamour. Premire nouvelle: Elonor dYvre.
Intro. Ren Godenne. Geneva: Slatkine.
Bompas, Cecil Henry. 1909.
Hawaiian Mythology.
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Bushnaq, Inea, trans. 1986.
Arab Folktales.
New York: Pantheon.
Edmunds, Lowell, and Alan Dundes. 1984.
Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook.
New York: Garland.
Erdoes, Richard, and Alfonso Ortiz. 1984.
American Indian Myths and Legends.
New York:
Frobenius, Leo, and Douglas C. Fox. 1937.
New York: Stackpole Sons.
The Golden Legend, or Lives of the Saints [Legenda aurea].
1900. Comp. Jacobus de Voragine
1275. Trans. William Caxton 1483. Ed. F.S. Ellis. London: Temple Classics. First pub-
Graffigny, Franoise de. 1993.
Thompson, Stith. 1977 [1946].
The Folktale.
Berkeley: University of California Press. Orig.
ed: New York, Holt, Rinehard and Winston.
1897. Trans. F. Max Mller. 2 vols. in 1. New York: Christian Literature.
Vega, Garcilaso de la. 1961.
The Royal Commentaries of the Inca.
Trans. Maria Jolas. New
York: Orion.
Werner, E.T.C. 1922.
Myths and Legends of China.
London: George G. Harrap.
Williams, F.E. 1984. Oedipus in Papuan Folklore. In Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook, Lowell
Edmunds and Alan Dundes, 4346. New York: Garland.
Zipes, Jack, ed. 2001.
The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the
Brothers Grimm.
New York: Norton.
Zola, Emile. 1990 [1872].
La Cure.
Paris: Gallimard.
Justice and Injustice
Motif U10 and Various Motifs
motivating factor for the individual. Melvin Lerner writes, People want
to and have to believe they live in a just world so that they can go about
their daily lives with a sense of trust, hope, and confidence in their future
(1980, 14). Moreover, Lerner observes, ordinary people value justice so
highly that under certain circumstances they are willing to make excep-
the nature of life. Thus goes the world is the text of such tales (Intro.,
There are cross-references to various supernatural indicators of unjust de-
cisions (D1318.1.1, Stone bursts as a sign of unjust judgment; D1318.2.1,
Laughing fish reveals unjust judgment; and T575.1.1.3, Child in mothers
womb reveals unjust judgment). One cluster of motifs (U11) centers on small
trespasses punished; large crimes condonedfor example, U11.1, Ass pun-
ished for stealing mouthful of grass; lion and wolf forgiven for eating sheep,
and U11.1.1.2, Penitent in confession worries about little sins and belittles
the big ones. Elsewhere in this group such unjust outcomes are connected
explicitly to social power and connections, as when a lion holding court and
listening to the sins of other animals forgives all the powerful animals but
The U15 complex concerns laughter as an appropriate response to rampant
injustice, recalling physicist Niels Bohrs comment that there are some things
so serious you just have to laugh at them. U18 presents a filial response to
parental experience of injustice (the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the
Who? Who? cried all the people of Chelm with one voice. The judge nod-
ded in agreement and reconsidered his verdict. Good people of Chelm, he
said, what you say is true. Since we have only one cobbler it would be a
on all trespassers of the Divine Will. The ways of the Almighty often seem
dark, but a real insight into his activities will always show perfect justice
(Thompson 1977, 130). Terrence Leslie Hansen cites a narrative from Argen-
tina in which a foolish man sees two drunk and sleepy travelers misplace their
money. Two other men find and take it. Meanwhile, the first pair stops and
questions another pair of men who have not seen the money. Finding this
response unsatisfactory, they beat one of them and kill the other. Based upon
what he has just seen, the observer concludes that the Lord is unjust. God
appears and explains that the first men were thieves, the second were deserv-
ing poor, and that the dead man was a murderer who had so far gone unpun-
ished. It is now apparent to the observer that the Lord is just (Hansen 1957,
88). Thompson remarks that a version of this type, The Angel and the Her-
mit, was a very popular exemplum used by medieval priests (1977, 130). On
a larger scale, the inscrutability of divine justice, and hence the need for faith,
is central to the biblical story of the tribulations of Job.
In literature, the preoccupation with justice may show up in unlikely
ters the famous bandit Roque Guinart. Guinart tells Don Quijote that after
each robbery all the bandits are required to place whatever they have stolen
in a communal pile from which he distributes equal shares. If he were not to
do so, Roque explains, there would be no living with his men. When Sancho
observes epigrammatically that justice is so good that even thieves find it
necessary, the men take offense and only Roques intervention prevents them
from beating the squire (Cervantes Saavedra 1968, 980981). The focus on
novel, which viewed the world through the lens of the young orphan who
lived by his wits; in realism, which demonstrated the increasing influence
Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. 1968.
Don Quijote.
Barcelona: Juventud.
Child, Francis James. 1965 [18821898].
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.
5 vols.
New York: Dover. Orig. ed., Houghton Mifflin.
Hansen, Terrence Leslie. 1957.
The Types of the Folktale in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican
Republic, and Spanish South America.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lerner, Melvin. 1980.
The Belief in a Just World.
New York: Plenum.
Thompson, Stith. 1977 [1946].
The Folktale.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
The Double
The double, at its most basic, is a duplicate of an individual or a part of a
mortal/immortal pairs (Harris 1913, 217). For example, it might have been
eventually decided that one of the twins had been fathered by a human, the
other by a god, a decision that may have generated those pairs in mythology
that include one twin (or brother, or friend) who lives or succeeds, while the
the evil Qasim and
the good Ali Baba are brothers. Qasim learns from his brother about the cav-
ern of riches, goes there, and is murdered by the forty thieves. Ali Baba sur-
vives, a wealthy man, into old age. In the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, when
the primitive Enkidu dies, the civilized Gilgamesh, feeling that a part of him
and the most accessible of these, and the easiest to experience, is the shadow,
for its nature can in large measure be inferred from the contents of the per-
sonal unconsciousfrom a dream, for instance (Jung 1959b, 8). The shadow
is a sort of second personality to the primary or ego personality (Jung 1959a,
262). Odin and Loki, at the beginning of time, exchange vows of friendship,
becoming blood brothers, but Loki grows malicious, ultimately bringing on
the twilight of the gods, in which Odin, and Loki himself, are destroyed. In
Mary Shelleys
sepulchral fortress to pay for his crime. Miriam is seen by Kenyon and
Hilda at a distance, lifting her hands toward them in a blessing and farewell,
Doublings other than self and shadow, and male and female, exist, of course.
The good/evil opposition is one important example. The scapegoat may be
considered the evil double of the entire tribe from which it is driven. The
ills are expelled from the people or the village when they are loaded on
the scapegoat (Frazer 1981, 182). During their annual spring festival, the
frighten the women, acting the part of the Devil until the tribe chased him out
of the village (Frazer 1981, 183184). Frazer wrote his influential work at the
and parrots, forgeries, facsimiles, and dj vu. In regard to doubling by divi-
sion, the divided personalities of living persons began to be studied toward
Good and Evil
Various Motifs
The creation myths of many cultures address the problem of evil and how it
came into the world. The section of mythological motifs in the
One explanation for how illness and other evils originated is seen in Hesiods
Works and Days
(seventh century BCE).
own placenta which gives birth to an ugly human called Kahu (also called
Odosha). He is evil and jealous of Wandi [a combination of god, hero, and
shaman in Heaven who orders the earth]. Because of Kahu/Odosha there is
hunger and sickness and war. He teaches people to kill. He is also served by
a hairy dwarf whom he created. (Jackson 1994, 607).
In folktales, scholars have stressed the simplistic polarity of good and evil on
the level of both plot and character. For example, Most folktales hinge on the
a collection of poems meditating on evil,
Les Fleurs du Mal
(1857), in which
evil triumphs over good. The ambiguous nature of evil is explored in the
works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. For example, in the short story Young
evil as a causative agent (temptation, inspiration) . . . project through the mental
anguish of the figures a polar vision of good and evil commanding intellectual
reflection concerning the essence of a desirable existence (1987, 101).
Jane Garry
The Double; Fight of the Gods and Giants; Trickster.
Daemmrich, Horst S., and Ingrid Daemmrich. 1987.
Themes and Motifs in Western Literature:
Tubingen: A. Francke.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. 1955.
The Brothers Karamazov.
Various Motifs
Trees have had an important place and meaning in world cultures throughout
fume of the flowers. Later, the tree is pulled up, and the sky mother falls
through the hole in the sky to earth. She has two twins, dark and light. As
They stood at the edge of the forest,
They gazed at the height of the cedars,
They saw the cedar mountain, dwelling of the gods, sacred to
On the slopes of that mountain, the cedar bears its abundance,
Gilgamesh and Enkidu cut down the great forest and go on to commit other
In the Aegean world, trees were a central part of religion from at least the
Bronze Age (ca. 3000ca. 1100 BCE), as we know from illustrations such as
Dionysus before a tree sanctuary and Hermes sitting in a great tree on vases
and other objects (Hornblower and Spawford 2003). In classical times, cer-
tain gods became identified with specific trees. Athena was associated with
the olive, Apollo with the laurel, Artemis with the myrtle. The oak tree was
saints can come out of tree ashes and saints may grow trees (Glpinarli 1958,
In other tales, the soul of a man is kept within a tree; when the tree dies, the
human being dies. This motif is known as the external soul (E710; AT 303), as
in an ancient Egyptian story called Tale of the Two Brothers. In this story, a
man leaves his heart in the flower of an acacia tree and dies when the tree is
(D215, Transformation: Man to tree). After a time, the dove asks the girl
to go to the house of an old woman and bring back a certain ring, and when
Daphne, who, while running away to escape Apollos importunities, calls upon
her father, the river god Peneus, who turns her into a laurel tree (D215.1,
Transformation: man (woman) to laurel). Throughout the world, there are
stories of people being turned into specific trees: ash (D215.3), linden (D215.4),
The motif of a man transformed into a tree appears in Virgils
BCE; 3:2742), Ariostos
and Spensers
The Faerie Queene
Book I, ii). In these examples the protagonist of
each story discovers that the tree is a transformed man by breaking a bough;
D215, Transformation: man to tree). From
Little Brother and Little Sister, and Other
by the Brothers Grimm,
illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1917).
hidden place where magic or sensuality can prevail and where one can be free
Hornblower, Simon, and Antony Spawford, eds. 2003.
Oxford Classical Dictionary.
New York:
Oxford University Press.
Kunos, Igncz. 1896.
Turkish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales.
The Trickster
Various Motifs
when used by social scientists, refers to more than simply
a deceptive character. Tricksters are destroyers and creators, heroes and vil-
lains, often even both male and female (Motif K309, Trickster character
composed of opposites; Turner 1972). Many trickster figures, such as Coy-
ote and Maui, are demiurges or culture heroes who provide human beings
with necessities such as the sun (usually Motifs A728, Sun caught in snare,
or A1411, Theft of light); fire (A1415, Theft of fire); and tools for pro-
these motifs; the trickster may be clever, but he also pays for his mischief by
presents this motif as Buttocks as magic watcher (D1317.1),
which rather sanitizes the story (and diminishes the humor). The tricksters
sexual adventures are similarly sanitized; consider In darkness of night Trick-
ster instead of her chosen lover elopes with girl (T92.4.3). Although techni-
cally accurate (the trickster does accompany the girl instead of the person she
minimizes the decep-
tion and arrogance the trickster uses to essentially kidnap the girl. Later motif
indexes (such as Hasan El-Shamys) have been more open about the tricksters
bodily and sexual adventures.
The Trickster
contains a Winnebago tale about the trickster
Wakdjunkaga. Wakdjunkaga violates many tabus. First, he decides to go on
the warpath, an option not open to the chief of the upper phratrie. (Radin
1956, 114). Then, he ignores his sacred feast and has sex with multiple women,
acts that are forbidden to someone about to go on the warpath (116). Finally,
Wakdjunkaga avoids his entire responsibility to his tribe and, wandering off
on his own, has various typical trickster encounters (described at length in
The Trickster
). Radin analyzes this tale according to its social context and
then compares Wakdjunkaga to other Native American tricksters such as Coy-
ote and Raven.
Coyote is the best-known Native American trickster, and tales are told about
him by Native tribes located in the American West and Midwest. Coyote is
more godlike than many trickster figures; in some traditions, he is instrumen-
tal in shaping the land by sending out another being as Earth diver (A812).
But, in true trickster form, Coyote also often acts as marplot (A60, Marplot
at creation), interfering with Creators plans (as in J2186, Tricksters false
creations fail him. A trickster creates man from his excrements). It is signifi-
cant that Coyote shapes man out of his excrements; trickster tales often focus
on disgusting bodily-based humor, involving tricksters excrements or phal-
Legba). Eshu teaches human beings how to do Ifa divination, thereby me-
Monkey, the hero of the sixteenth-century Chinese epic that bears his name
(Waley 1943, 2, 6) is the primary Chinese trickster. The story relates how
Monkey accompanies Tripitaka (a historical person who lived in the seventh
century CE), Pigsy (a constantly hungry buffoon), and Sandy on a pilgrimage
to India (Waley 1943, 6). On the way they have various ribald, humorous, and
Jung wrote that [t]he trickster is a collective shadow figure, an epitome of
all the inferior traits of character in individuals. And since the individual
shadow is never absent as a component of personality, the collective figure
can construct itself out of it continually. Not always, of course, as a mytho-
logical figure (Jung 1956, 209). So we find the trickster in modern litera-
ture and television.
In the 1960s, Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction writer Roger
Zelazny wrote an intriguing short story, called Love Is an Imaginary Num-
Lvi-Strauss, Claude. 1963.
Structural Anthropology.
Trans. Claire Jacobson. 2 vols. New
York: Basic Books.
Makarius, Laura. 1993. The Myth of the Trickster: The Necessary Breaker of Taboos. In
Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms,
ed. William J. Hynes and
William C. Doty
Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Radin, Paul. 1956.
The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology.
New York: Schocken
Simek, Rudolf. 1993.
Dictionary of Northern Mythology.
Trans. Angela Hall. Cambridge;
Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer.
Thompson, Stith. 1929.
Tales of the North American Indians.
Bloomington: Indiana Univer-
The Folktale.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Turner, Victor. 1972. Myth and Symbol. In
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sci-
ed. David Sills. New York: Macmillan and the Free Press.
Waley, Arthur, trans. 1943.
Monkey: Folk Novel of China by Wu Cheng En.
New York: John
Wycoco, Remedios S. 1951. The Types of North-American Indian Tales. PhD diss., Indiana
Zelazny, Roger. 2001. Love Is an Imaginary Number.
The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of
New York: ibooks.
Union of Opposites,
or Coniunctio Oppositorum
Various Motifs
ignate union of opposites (Jung 1970, 167). Jungs own writings about the
were inspired largely by his copious researches into alchemy, a
medieval school of speculative chemistry concerned with fusions and separa-
tion of different substances (including the possibility of liberating gold from
themselves than as ingredients or associations typically drawn into specific
Jung provides a list of opposites at the very opening of
cold/warm, upper/lower, spirit/body, heaven/earth, fire/water,
bright/dark, active/passive, volatile/solid, precious/common, good/evil, open/
hidden, east/west, living/dead, masculine/feminine, sun/moon. These oppo-
sites are expressed in such motifs as Material of which angels are created
(fire, water, and snow) (A52.3), from Jewish traditions; Conflict of good
and evil creators (A50), from Jewish, Hindu, and Persian traditions; and
Opposition of good and evil gods (A106), from Hindu, Mexican Indian,
South American Indian, and Jewish traditions. Also, other major motif divi-
A literary verse in the
Arabian Nights
An important variation on this tale-type depicting sibling rivalry among
stepsisters presents a balanced view toward various objects in ones environ-
ment . . . ; thus things that are typically viewed as evil are still accorded some
positive value (El-Shamy 1995, 255262). The tale type also highlights the
some [sesame] from me, Take some of my safflower oil. [She uses these
That was it, of course, she became beautiful, with long black hair, white
complexion, black eyes, rosy cheeks and a honey-dripping tongue.
[She also marries the prince and moves away from her cruel stepmother.]
By contrast, the pampered daughter fails to comprehend the merits of oppo-
sites and sees things in a limited way: either good or evil. She is punished for
her social and spiritual immaturity, remaining unwed and attached to her
mother. Consequently, it may be argued, the girl who recognizes the merits of
undergoes the process of individuation successfully:
she achieves beauty, recognition, and other social and personal rewards ac-
corded prominent individuals. Conversely, her stepsister fails to be individu-
ated and remains a burdensome dependent on her mother.
From this perspective, the key motifs in this account are U280, Balance
dualism figures importantly in Mausss (1967) analysis of the ways in which
gender oppositions in ritual and economic exchange shape social custom and
Moreover, in psychoanalytic literature on ambivalence, in the structuralist
focus on oppositions and their mediation, and in Marxist interest in Hegelian
Hertz, R. 1978. The Pre-eminence of the Right Hand. In
ed. R. Needham,
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jung, C.G. 1970.
Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of
Psychic Opposites in Alchemy.
Various Motifs
The vast role of water in the worlds stories is reflected in the very large
number of motifs devoted to it. These motifs are found throughout various
chapters of the
The symbolism of water is ambivalent: on the one hand, it animates and
Water of life and death. One water kills, the other restores to life). While
water is perceived as the source of life on earth and necessary for its suste-
of Israel: I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the
valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of
water 41:1820.
Creation myths universally describe how various bodies of water came into
under Cosmogony
and Cosmology, Creation of the Earth, there is a section devoted to water
features, A910949. What we now know as scientific factthat life started in
the oceansthe ancients seemed to know intuitively. The Greeks considered
Oceanuswateras the great cosmic power through which all life grows,
represented in mythology as a benign old god. Oceanus is a primal river en-
circling the globe, giving rise to all other rivers.
a world calamity (A1010, Deluge. Inundation of whole world or section).
The myths of many cultures have gods and goddesses devoted to water realms,
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
for example A421, Sea-god; A427.1, Goddesses of springs and wells;
A421.1, Sea-goddess. Both the Greeks and the Romans attributed a pro-
father, and marries an enchanted princess.
In the Babylonian tradition, the goddess Ishtar descends to the underworld,
searching for Tammuz in order to restore him with the water of life. However,
she, too, has to be given fresh living water before her ascent to the upper
blessing or cure from water. In Islam, too, the ritual washing is also a sym-
bolically purifying ritual. For ablution, where water is missing (in the desert),
one may use clean sand instead. In a ritual reminiscent of the symbolic value
of baptism in Christianity, the bodies of the deceased are washed according to
religious rules in both Islam and Judaism, in order to cleanse the dead from
their sins. In ancient Greece, in the so-called Orphic texts . . . the soul is
parched with thirst and wants to drink the water of Memory; in the
eschatological myths of Plato and Virgil, the souls drink the water of Oblivion
(Hornblower and Spawford 2003).
Hande A. Birkalan and Jane Garry
Aarne, Antti, and Stith Thompson. 1964 [1961].
The Types of the Folktale: A Classification
and Bibliography.
Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
The Message of the Koran.
Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andalus.
Boratav, Pertev Naili. 1984 [1931].
Istanbul: Adam Yayinlari.
Boratav, Pertev Naili, and Wolfram Eberhard. 1953.
Typen der Trkischer Volksmrchen.
Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH.
Chauvin, Victor. 1902.
Bibliographie des ouvrages arabes ou relatifs aux arabes, publis dans
lEurope chrtienne de 1810 1885, 5:6.
Lige: H. Vaillant-Carmanne.
Eberhard, Wolfram. 1965.
Folktales of China.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
El-Shamy, Hasan M., ed. 1980.
Folktales of Egypt.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2001. Trans. and ed. Benjamin R. Foster.
The Sumerian Gilgamesh Poems
trans. Douglas Frayne.
The Hittite Gilgamesh
trans. Gary Beckman. New York: W.W. Norton.
rli, Abdlbaki. 1958.
Istanbul: Ink
Gray, John. 1985 [1982].
Near Eastern Mythology.
Rev. ed. New York: P. Bedrick Books.
Grimms Household Tales. With the Authors Notes.
Aarne, Antti, 136, 151, 244, 249, 350, 474
by fairies, 38486
and fate
Accidents, lucky/unlucky accidents, 32930
Accursed Daughter, 314
(Eliot), 407
Adam and Eve, 3, 7, 103, 197, 284, 298, 312,
Adultery, 402, 409, 413
alleged adultery/resentful men, 40910
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
(Twain), 270
(Virgil), 14, 148, 252, 469
Agamemnon, 196, 221, 404
Air-going elephant, 67
Aladdins lamp, 173
Alatangana, 45
Alcyoneous, 33
Alexander the Great, 54, 68, 98, 199, 305, 492
Alexander, Lloyd, 163
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, 279, 329
Alices Adventures in Wonderland
(Carroll), 200
Aliens, abduction by, 38687
All-Kinds-of-Fur (Grimms), 436
Allison Gross (ballads), 169
Alter ego, 453
Altizer, Jonathan, 41
(Gaiman), 479
Amor and Psyche
, 83
(drink of immortality), 3435
Anatomy of Melancholy
(Burton), 97
Andersen, Hans Christian, 72, 98, 200
Anderson, Walter, 245
Androgyny, 57, 61
androgynous deity, 3
Taoism and, 5859
(film), 311
swan maiden, 9597
Mythical animals
abduction by, 38384
animal births and envious women, 41113
Mythical animals
generosity rewarded and, 37577
(Sophocles), 156
Apostles Creed, 14
Arabian Nights
, 70, 91, 126, 229, 283, 289, 329,
Biebuyck, Daniel, 252
(coming-of-age novel), 132
Biographical Pattern in Traditional Narrative
(Taylor), 16
abduction by, 383
griffin, 8283
Conception and birth; Monstrous
Bisexuality, 3, 5758
Blair Witch Project, The
(film), 168
Blake, William, 78, 28
Cervo, Nathan, 147
Chance and fate, 32345, 446
changing ones fate, 32526
fate personified, 32425
lucky/unlucky accidents, 32930
treasure trove, 329
wagers and gambling, 32629
wise old man/woman, 34245
Chanson de Florence
, 409, 419
Chaucer, Geoffrey, 130, 200, 208, 309,
Chew, Samuel, 335
burying alive tales, 405
infanticide, 230, 39294
Children of the goddess Danu, 204
Childrens and Household Tales
(Grimms), 114,
divination and, 33334
Dickens, Charles, 132, 270
Dickinson, Emily, 336
(Ranke), 75
Dionysus, 2021, 194, 284, 466
Disguise of man in womans dress, 62
Disguise of woman in mans clothes, 62
Divination, 33334
Divine Artificer, 4
Divine Chief of the Sky (Ainu), 6
(Dante), 14, 200, 252, 299
Divine couple, 455
Divine Creator of the World, 6
Divine tutor, 147
Doktor Faustus
(Mann), 310
Don Giovanni
(Mozart), 131
Don Juan, 131, 184, 28587
Don Juan
(Byron), 286, 337
Don Juan de Marco
(Leven), 28687
Don Juan, or le Festin de Pierre
(Molire), 131,
Don Juan Tenorio
(Zorilla), 286
Doniger, Wendy, 129, 289
Doom/Destiny of the Gods, 323
Christian Book of Revelation, 3940
millennialism today, 4142
Old and New Testament, 3839
world-fire motif, 39
Dostoyevsky, F., 462
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, 208
(Stoker), 184, 462
Dragon Slayer, The
, 13, 75, 250, 335, 461
definitions, 73
fight with, 74
, 75
, 7475
Dumuzi/Tammuz, 14, 21, 194
Dundes, Alan, 11
Erinyes, 116
Erymanthian boar, 67, 69
Eshu trickster, 476
Evans, Jonathan D., 73
Eves Unequal Children, 61
Good and evil
Evil eye, 14143, 145, 16869
(film), 167
evil eye, 14143, 145, 16869
Faerie Queene
(Spenser), 357, 469
Ordaining the future
Galland, Antoine, 412, 421
Gambling, wagers and, 32629
of India, 80, 84
The Genesis of the Hid-Folk, 51
Geoffrey of Monmouth, 22, 150, 290
German Legends
(Grimms), 156
Ghosts and the Japanese: Cultural Experience in
Japanese Death Legends
(Iwasaka and
Toelken), 430
fights with gods, 3336
individual combats with gods, 3637
war with Olympian gods, 33
Girl as Bears Wife
, 94
Girl as helper in heros flight motif, 13537, 330
Glass slipper, 238
God as creator, 4
God as invisible, 6
Godfather Death, 326
fate or doom of, 17
power of, 323
Harpy, 67, 71
Harris, Joel Chandler, 5253
Harry Potter
series (Rowling), 86, 164, 170
Hartland, Edwin Sidney, 97
Harvest festivals, 48
Hvaml (proverb collection), 158
Hawaiian gods, 1819
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 340, 455, 462, 470
Heaven, 19192
Heavens Gate, 41
Hel, 17, 71
Heliopolitan cosmology, 25
Hermaphroditic creator, 57
Hermaphroditic deity, 3
pregnant man, 6061
Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama,
(Raglan), 11
Hero cycle, 1016
call to adventure, 221
choice of roads/individuation, 26869
Husbands and wives
quest for vanished, 25358
wifes chastity, 293
Hutchinson, Anne, 42627
Huxley, A., 462
Hyde, Lewis, 476
Hydra Lernaia
, 75
, 104, 129, 196, 400
Kawanah, 76
Keats, John, 70, 97, 106, 184, 208
Keightley, Thomas, 204
Kentsham bell, 215
Kernyi, Carl, 459
, 84
Little, William, 283
Loathy ladies, 130
Loch Ness Monster, 78, 212
Loewe, Frederick, 132
Looking tabus, 10813
naked women, 11012
Pandoras box, 109
Lord of the Rings
(Tolkien), 345
Lots wife, 109
Low magic, 166
Lower world, 19293
Lucas, George, 29
Lucky accidents, 32930
Luzerner Antichristspiel
Marys Child (Grimms), 118
Marzolph, Ulrich, 82
Massey, Irving, 462
Maternal cravings, 42122
Mather, Cotton, 41, 427
Mathers, S. Liddell MacGregor, 339
Matisoff, James, 318
Maui trickster, 476
Megas, Georgios, 253, 255
Men in Black
(film), 218
Mental cruelty, 400
Merchant of Venice, The
(Shakespeare), 62, 375
Mermaid Wife, The, 213
Merry Wifes of Windsor
(Shakespeare), 327
hero cycle, 1016
nature of the creator, 38
origin of Pentecost, 4649
origins of inequality, 5055
Naked women, tabu against looking at,
, 116
Naming tabus, 11517
devils and evil creatures, 116
Nature of the creator, 38
Navigatio Brendani
, 85
Nenniuss Historia Britonum
, 149
Nephthys, 28, 354
(Dinka), 6
power of gods, 323
Nut (sky), 28, 58, 354
(Homer), 14, 116, 126, 161, 167, 196,
Oedipus Rex
(Sophocles), 148, 336, 437
OFlaherty, Wendy Doniger, 57, 284
Oiseau de cinabre (tan-niao)
Old Man Coyote, 45
Oliver Twist
(Dickens), 270
Olympian gods, 33
war with giants, 33
Omen, The
(film), 429
Orchard, Andy, 34
bargain with the devil, 30311
Order of the universe, 2425
Origin of the Island Hiddensee, 17576
Origins of inequality, 5055.
Justice and
class inequality, 5455
The Creation Story, 51
Eves Unequal Children, 51
The Genesis of the Hid-Folk, 51
gypsy legends, 5354
physical and social differences, 5253
racial differences, 5253
slaves or untouchable castes, 54
Orpheus, 20, 69, 10910, 19394
Other, 453
Otherworld, eating and drinking tabus in, 1036
Otherworld journeys, 191201
fairyland, 19697
lower world, 19293
upper world, 19192
Pahulu gods, 18
Palume, Denise, 30910
Pan, 6970, 134, 298
Fables of Bidpai
), 172, 174, 280, 402
Pandora, 109, 460, 478
Paracelsus, 150, 208, 214, 305
Paradise, 197
nonfiction accounts of, 199200
Paradise Lost
(Milton), 7
infanticide, 230, 39294
Parvati, 129, 140
(von Eschenbach), 13
Pasiphae, 69
Paton, Sir Joseph Noel, 208
Patricide, 230
Paxson, Christina, 363
, 200
Peeping Tom, 111
Pegasus, 7071, 85
(Basile), 136, 151, 315, 317, 365,
harvest festivals and, 48
spring festivals and, 48
as Whitsuntide (White Sunday), 4748
People of the hill, 204
Peoples Temple of Jonestown, 41
Perfect Storm, The
(Junger), 223
Rewards and punishments
Pushkin, Alexander, 328
(Shaw), 131
Queen of Elfin, 105
Queen of Spades, The
(Pushkin), 328
Quest for the father, 1314
North American tale quest, 251
vanished husband/lover, 25358
Saint George, 67, 74, 7677, 156, 461
Saint Patrick, 211, 314
Saint Thomas, 312
Saints legends, 156
Samson, 245
(Milton), 85
Satan, 13, 40, 76, 275, 300, 356.
seduction of Eve, 284
Sauer, Julia, 164, 223
Scapegoat, 456
Skillful Hunter, The
(Hillerman), 170
Sky God (Aniu), 6
Sky phenomena, 21723
color of sky, 220
mythology, 21819
Skylla, 75
Slave caste, 54
Slavery, 52
, 12, 169, 203, 315
Sleipnir, 71
Slow, the Weaver, 17475
, 17374
Snow White, 70, 126, 249, 36364, 383, 405,
Social cosmology, 28
Social equality, 445
Tale of Florent
(Gower), 130
Tales of Burning Love
(Erdrich), 223
Tales of the North American Indians
Tales of Terror
(Lewis), 461
Tam and Cam, 240, 363
Tam Lin, 127, 197, 338
Taming of the Shrew, The
(Shakespeare), 62,
Tammuz, 19
Tangaroa, 27
Taoism, 5859
Tatar, Maria, 405
Taylor, Archer, 15
Tritemius, 150
Tuatha De Danann, 204
Tucker, Holly, 421
(Puccini), 117
Twain, Mark, 223, 270, 457
Twelve Brothers, The (Grimms), 114
Twilight of the gods, 323
Twins, 35758, 393, 413, 433.
good and evil as, 459
twin tabu, 45354
(film), 221
Two Brothers, The
, 75, 83, 134
Two Drovers, The (Scott), 15051
Two Gentlemen of Verona, The
(Shakespeare), 61
Tyche, 324
Typen der Trkischen Voksmrchen
, 81
Types of the Folktale
(Aarne and Thompson),
(Harris), 5253
Underwater city, 215
journeys in, 1415
Unidentified flying objects (UFOs), 21718, 387
Unification Church, 41
in literature and theater, 484
Unlucky accidents, 32930
Unnatural cruelty, 391415
animal births and envious women, 41113
mental cruelty, 400
patient wives and cruel husbands, 41315
Water kelpie, 212
Water-men, 211
Water mishaps, supernatural explanations for,
Water monsters, 212
Water spirits, 21015
seduction by, 213
sunken bells, 21415
Water worship, 211
Ways of luck and fate.
Choice of roads
Weather phenomena, 21723
in literature, 22223
Weber, Eugen, 150
Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell
Weidhorn, Manfred, 148, 461
Wells, Carolyn, 85
Wells, H.G., 98, 164, 200
Wente, Edward F., 483
Werner, Alice, 196
Whealer-Voegelin, Erminie, 425
Widengren, G., 460
Widows curse, 314
Wife of Baths Tale (Chaucer), 130
Wife beating, 398402
Wigoder, Geoffrey, 90
Wilde, Oscar, 310, 456
Williams, F.E., 438
Wilson, Margo, 363
Winged horse, 67, 70
Winters Tale
(Shakespeare), 407
Wise Child
(Furlong), 170
Wise old man/woman, 162, 34245, 455
Wishes, 17277
Witch of Blackbird Pond, The
(Speare), 170
Witchcraft in the Middle Ages
(Russell), 166
Witches of Eastwich, The
(Updike), 170
Witchs Household
Wizard of Oz, The
, 221
Woman in the Window, The
(film), 456
Husbands and wives; Mothers
animal births and envious women, 41113
maternal cravings, 42122
mental cruelty, 400
naked women tabu, 11012
patient wives, 41315
as trickster, 291
wise old woman, 34245
womens quest, 25354
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The
(Baum), 2001
Works and Days
(Hesiod), 109, 198, 460
World, destruction of, 1718
World-fire, 39
World tree, 46465, 491
Worn-Out Dancing Slippers, The (Grimms),
Wrinkle in Time, A
(LEngle), 223
Wuthering Heights
(Bront), 337
Wycoco, Remedios S., 474
Xing Tian (the Headless One), 32
Yang/ying (sky/earth), 25, 59, 74
Yassif, Eli, 88, 91
Yeats, William Butler, 2089, 386, 392
Ying, 25, 59, 74
Ymir, 27, 3334, 434, 460
(land of gloom), 19
Young Benjie (ballad), 18182
Young Giant, The (Grimms), 154
Young Goodman Brown (Hawthorne), 340, 462
Yu, 74
Zelazny, Roger, 479
, 76, 81
Zvorykin, Boris, 334

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