Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Satyr, The



THERE was once a great king who had one only little daughter, and this daughter was always entreating him to take her out hunting.

               'It is not proper for little girls to go out hunting,' he used to say; but it was no use. She went on begging all the same, and at last her importunity gained the day, and he took her with him. But in the forest she got separated from him and lost herself, and he, full of the ardour of the chase, forgot the care of her, and, when he came to think of her, she could no more be found.

               She wandered about the forest crying for her father, but her father came not; and instead of her father a selvaggio [1] found her, and fell in love with her, and took her to his den and married her, and she had two children.

               When ten years had passed, and there were no tidings of her, the queen, her mother, died of a broken heart. [2]

               But the selvaggio loved her dearly, and did everything in his power to give her pleasure. When he found she could not eat the raw game which he brought her, he would go into the towns and steal cooked food and bring it to her, and when he could not get that he would go ever so far to find fruits and roots. Everything, he did to please her, but it was no use, she could not love him.

               At last, however, after so many years were passed, he thought she was at least used to the way of life with him, and he no longer watched her so closely. One day when he was gone to a long distance she wandered on to a cliff that overhung the sea, and looked till she saw a ship, then she called to it and made signs to it to come and pick her up.

               The captain took compassion on her distress, and made for the land, and took her on board and wrapped her in a cloak, [3] and she told him who she was and he promised to take her home. He gave her a white kerchief to put on her head and another to hold in her hand.

               They had not got far out to sea when the selvaggio found out what had happened, and came running to the same cliff where she had stood, and made signs entreating her to come back; but she shook the handkerchief she held in token of refusal.

               Then what did he do? He ran back to the den and fetched one of the children and held it up, appealing to her mother's instincts; but she always continued waving the handkerchief in token of refusal. When he saw that this prevailed not, he ran back to the den and fetched the other child, and held them both up to plead with her to come back. But she always, and always, went on waving the handkerchief in token of refusal. Then what did he do? He took out his knife and plunged it into the one child, as signifying that if she did not come back he would kill the other also. But even for that she was not moved, but went on waving the handkerchief in token of refusal. Then with his knife he killed the other child, for he had no hope left; but she could not go back to that life with him, and went on waving the handkerchief in token of refusal.

               Then with his claw [4] he tore open his breast, and tore out his heart, and died for the love he bore her.

               But the sailors took her home, and they were richly rewarded, and there was great rejoicing.



[1] 'You know what a "selvaggio" is, I suppose?' asked the narrator. 'Yes; a wild man,' I answered, thinking of the German myths. 'No, they weren't altogether men, they were those creatures there used to be in old times, half men with legs like goats, but they walked on two legs, and had heads and arms like men.' After this description, I thought I might take the license of adopting the title for a word incidentally used by the narrator in telling the story. The shepherds and goatherds about Rome with their goatskin leggings covering leg and thigh, readily suggest to the eye how the idea of a satyr may have first arisen.

[2] 'Appassionata,' 'of a broken heart.'

[3] 'Ferraiuola,' the light cloak with a shoulderpiece which priests wear out of doors in Rome in summer. It was formerly worn by others besides priests.

[4] Sgramfia, or granfa or gramfia, is a claw of a beast, or of a bird of prey, most often used for the latter. I hardly know how this came to be ascribed to a satyr, unless she meant simply that his nails were rather strongly developed.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Satyr, The
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Estes and Lauriat
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1877
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: unclassified

Prev Tale
Next Tale
Satyrs, The

Back to Top