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

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APPENDIX A. p. xx.

               I have done injustice to the part assigned to the horse in French legendary tales by omitting mention of it in this place. Charles Louandre ('Chefs-d'oeuvre des conteurs Français,' Paris, 1873, note to pp. 43-4) calls special attention to it and gives us the name of many horses famous in the old French minstrelsy. There was 'Valentin,' the horse of Roland; 'Tencedor, of Charlemagne;' 'Barbamouche, swifter than the swallow;' and many others. But there is no name to the charger in the graceful 'Lai de Graélent,' by Marie de France, whose fidelity is the occasion of his Note. I ought not to have forgotten either, the honours paid him in the Spanish Romances, of which the brave 'Black Charger of Hernando' ('Patrañas') may serve as the type.


               My attention has been called, while these sheets have been passing through the press, to a collection which enables me to subjoin some notes of analogies between the Folktales of France and those in the text. It is entitled 'Recueil des Contes des Fées,' Geneva, 1718; published without author's name, and the stories are much less artificially treated than in the better known collections of the Comtesse d'Aulnoy, de Caylus, Perrault, Madame de Villeneuve, &c.

               Monteil ('Traité de Matériaux-Manuscrits,' Paris, 1835) mentions a MS. in his possession, of the year 1618, entitled 'Contes des Fées,' from which Perrault, the least artificial of the French collectors, seems to have drawn his tales. Mayer ('Discours sur l'Origine des Contes des Fées,' Geneva and Paris, 1786) ascribes to him the revival of the knowledge of the existence of popular fairy tales and mediæval romances, and many of our own Nursery Rimes (notably 'Puss in Boots') are simply translated from his versions.

               'Prince Rainbow' ('Le Prince Arc-en-Ciel'), the fifth story in the 'Recueil,' contains similar incidents with those in 'Filagranata,' in combination with the introduction of the opening of a nut in place of one of the oranges in my next story. (I have another Roman story in MS. which hinges on the opening of three nuts in the place of three oranges.) In the French story the ire of the bad fairy is excited against the princess who holds the place of Filagranata, by her receiving the name of 'Fairer-than-Fairies' ('Plus-belle-que-Fée'). The bad fairy Lagrée, who is so old that she has only one tooth and one eye, carries her off to an underground palace, where her task is to tend a fire, instead of feeding pigeons. Here she is courted by a prince transformed into a rainbow, whom she finds of course always seated in the sunshine on a fountain. While talking to him, she lets her fire out. Lagrée sends her to get fresh fire from the giant Locrinos, devourer of maidens; the giant's wife takes compassion on her, and gives her the fire, and with it a stone to use in time of distress. Lagrée, in fury at her success, sends away Prince Rainbow. Fairer-than-Fairies escapes, and goes in search of him, taking with her the stone, a branch of myrtle, and her cat and dog; when she is weary with wandering, the stone provides her a cave to sleep in, the dog keeping guard. Lagrée pursues her; the dog attacks her, and throws her down, so that she breaks her only tooth, and the princess escapes for another stage. Lagrée overtakes her again as she is sleeping in a bower the branch of myrtle has raised for her. The cat makes the defence this time, scratching out her only eye, finally disabling her. After this, Fairer-than-Fairies is entertained in a white and green palace by a white and green lady, who gives her a nut, to be used only in direst need. After another year's wanderings, another white and green lady gives her a pomegranate; at the end of another year, another gives her a crystal vial. Afterwards she comes to a silver palace, suspended by silver chains from four trees. She then breaks the nut; a Swiss appears and admits her, and she finds Prince Rainbow in an enchanted sleep, answering to the kiss of forgetfulness in 'Filagranata.' Fairer-than-Fairies breaks open the pomegranate, all the pips become violins, whose melody makes the prince open his eyes. She breaks open the crystal flask, and a Seiren appears, who sings the tale of all the princess has endured. The prince wakes--the spell is ended. The silver palace turns into a real and inhabited one. They embrace, and are married.

               'Incarnat, Blanc et Noir,' in the same 'Recueil,' is very similar to the 'Three Love-Oranges.' A prince walking out in the snow sees a crow. He tries his skill at bringing him down, and the black bird falls bleeding on the white snow. The sight makes him desire a maiden who combines these three tints. Suddenly a voice tells him to go to the 'Kingdom of Marvels,' and that there he will find a tree with splendid apples (they are not expressly said to be golden). He is to take three, and not to open them till he reaches home. Curiosity overcomes him by the way; he opens one, and a beautiful maiden appears; before he can embrace her she disappears. Afterwards, his homeward travels lead him on the sea; the desire to open one of the apples again overcomes him, but though he orders the vessel to be closely covered down all over, the second maiden disappears like the first. He only opens the third on reaching home, and then there comes to him a maiden exactly such as he desired, whom he marries. Afterwards he goes to the wars; and the mother-in-law, who hated her all along, kills her, and throws her body in the castle moat, and substitutes another woman, a creature of her own. The prince expresses his surprise, but she assures him the different appearance is only the effect of a spell. The prince, however, pines after his own maiden. One day he sees swimming in the castle moat a fish with red, white, and black scales, which he spends all his time in gazing at. The false wife pretends she has an irrepressible desire to eat that particular fish; she is in a delicate state of health, and he cannot refuse her. After that a tree springs up suddenly, which once more presents the three colours. The false wife (inspired by the mother-in-law) demands that it shall be cut down and burnt. He cannot refuse her. Finally, a palace, built of rubies, pearls, and jet, suddenly appears by the side of his own. By unheard-of exertion he gets into it, and there finds in a cabinet his own maiden, whom he recalls to his side.

               Another ('Le Buisson d'Épines fleuries') contains noticeable analogies with both the group of 'The Pot of Marjoram,' and that of 'Maria Wood.' The mother of a fairy princess is led to fill the stepmother's part towards her, by her having so lavishly distributed the ointment of perpetual youth, which had been entrusted to her keeping, that none is left for the queen's own use when she desires to have recourse to it to regain the lost affections of her husband, an earthly king. The governess comes to the aid of the princess, and they fly away together with tents and all requisites of the journey stowed away in pearls for travelling boxes (some analogy, perhaps, with the 'Candeliera'). Their adventures bring them across Prince Zelindor, who marries the princess. The vengeance of the fairy mother pursues them in various shapes, till at last she turns Zelindor into a Sweet Briar. The princess is attracted towards the plant, and tends it with the greatest care, without knowing it is her husband. The enraged fairy queen orders her to pluck a branch, and she is obliged to obey. The plant flows with blood, and Zelindor declares she is the cause of his death; at this juncture the husband of the fairy queen, fetched by the benevolent governess, appears. His return reconciles the queen to her daughter; and with an elixir she heals Zelindor's wounds, and restores him to his bride.

               Perrault's rimed fable of 'Peau d'Âne' is much nearer 'Maria Wood.' The dying queen binds the king to marry no one who does not surpass her in beauty and understanding. Only their daughter comes up to the mark. Her fairy godmother tells her to ask for the brilliant dresses, and finally for the skin of a gold-coin-producing donkey. The king sacrifices even this. The fairy tells her to put on this skin while she stows her sunbeam dresses, jewels, &c., in a press which she promises shall follow underground wherever she carries her wand. She is made hen-wife in a king's farmyard, and puts on her brilliant dresses on holidays in her private room. The prince sees her through the keyhole, and falls ill because his parents object to the union. 'Peau d'Âne' makes him a cake into which she drops one of her rings. The prince is charmed with the idea of the hand it suggests to him; his malady increases, and this softens his parents. He says he will marry no one but her whom the ring fits, and thus of course 'Peau d'Âne' marries him.

               The counterpart, in Perrault, to the group to which 'Il Rè Moro' belongs is a very clever, but somewhat artificially told story, called 'Kadour.' Kadour, an exquisitely beautiful princess of Cashmere, is utterly deficient, not in riches, like the chicory-seller's daughter, but in mind. She comes one day to a hole in the ground, and a monstrous figure comes out of it, and offers her the gift of mind, on condition of marrying him in a year. Without knowing what mind is, she has perceived that all her exceeding beauty has been powerless to attract any of the attention she has seen lavished on others, and she gives a sort of stupid consent. The monster tells her that the gift of mind is to be obtained by simply repeating the words, 'O Love, who canst inspire all things; if it needs but to love to lose my insipidity, behold I am ready!'

'O toi qui peux tout animer,         
Amour, si pour n'être plus bête        
Il ne faut que savoir aimer,               
      Je suis prête.'

                In proportion as she repeats these words she is filled with intelligence; but no sooner is she so gifted than everyone appreciates and surrounds her, and she soon falls in love with Arada, the handsomest of her adorers. When the monster returns at the end of the year, and takes her down to his palace through the hole in the earth, she is in great perplexity what decision to make. She perceives that either way she must lose Arada, and says that she cannot give any answer; the monster says he will decide for her, and send her back to her first estate. Her newly-acquired powers, however, give her such loathing of this condition, that she finally prefers retaining her mind even on the terrible condition already propounded. The monster declares himself King of the Gnomes, master of boundless riches, and every kind of luxury and pleasure is lavished on her, as on the chicory-seller, to reconcile her with her situation; but in this case all in vain. She contrives to let Arada know her unhappy position, that she may have the benefit of his sympathy. The gnome-king punishes her by transforming his handsome person into a duplicate of his own, so that Kadour never knows to which of them she is speaking.

               This story is better known under the title of 'Riquet à la Houpe,' under which name it has been dramatised; in this, however, the senseless but beautiful princess has the compensatory faculty of rendering handsome her mind-giving but hideous lover, and therefore the happy dénouement is easily worked out. It is also the foundation of 'Beauty and the Beast;' and probably springs from the same idea as that embodied in the Ardshi Bordshi story I have given as 'Who invented Woman,' in 'Sagas from the Far East.'

               A sort of counterpart to the story of 'Il Rè Moro' is given under the title of 'Le Prince Sincer,' in Gueulette's 'Fabliaux, ou Soirées Bretonnes,' but this series seems to be but a réchauffé of Oriental tales, and not a collection of local traditions, as the name leads one to expect, notwithstanding that he introduces Druids into them. The story I have named forms a link also in some of its details with that in the text called 'I Satiri.' Another of the same series, called 'Le Prince Engageant,' has some analogy with the 'Tre Merangoli di Amore' (The Three Love-Oranges), in a prince finding his bride by giving her a pomegranate while she is transformed as a dragon.

               In a note to his translation of the ballad of 'Pérédur ou le Bassin Magique,' Th. de la Villemarqué [1] gives a Breton version of the 'Three Golden Apples' story. Pérédur is induced to abandon the state of retirement in which his mother has kept him, after the death of his father and his five brothers, by seeing Owen ride by, 'seeking the knight who divided the apples at the Court of Arthur.' Upon this the annotator remarks that the episode here alluded to has not been discovered; but, by way of compensation, he supplies the following, which was told him by a peasant of the diocese of Quimper, who could not read, and had received it by tradition from his forefathers.

               King Arthur was holding a feast at Lannion, in Brittany; five other kings assisted at it, with their wives and their suite. Just as dinner is over Merlin appears, and hands three golden apples to the king, and says they are to be adjudged to the three most beautiful women. There is a great commotion, and blood is about to flow in the dispute, when an unknown knight advances into the hall, mounted on a black charger with so luxuriant a mane that it envelops both him and his rider. The cause of dispute is referred to him for arbitration. He takes up the three apples, and compares their colour to the hair of the five queens, and their perfume to the ladies' breath; but settles the competition, like 'the Gold-Spitting Prince,' in 'Sagas from the Far East,' by disappearing with the prize.

               He further quotes, from 'Myvyrian,' i. 151, 152, 155, that Merlin was so fond of apples that he devoted a poem to their celebration, and declared he had an orchard with 147 apple-trees of the greatest beauty; their shade was as valued as their fruit, and was confided to the care, not of a dragon, but of a fair maiden, with floating hair and teeth like drops of dew.

APPENDIX C. p. 195.

               It ought to have been remarked under Note 1, that Abelard's name is spelt Abailard in old French, which brings it nearer the name in the legend.

APPENDIX D. p. 196.

               Cardinal Valerio, Bishop of Verona (in his 'De Rhetorica Christiana' cited in Ludovic Lalanne's 'Curiosités des Traditions,' iv. 403-4), has a very ingenious mode, among others, of accounting for the amplification of Legends; he says it was the custom in many monasteries to give the young monks liberty as a sort of exercise and pastime to write variations of the acts of the saints and martyrs, and they exerted their fancy in producing imaginary conversations and incidents of a nature consonant with the original story; that the most ingenious and well-written of these would sometimes be placed among other MSS. in the Library, and would mislead readers in later times.

APPENDIX E. p. 208.

               Charles Louandre ('Chefs-d'oeuvre des Conteurs Français,' Paris, 1873) gives an episode out of the 'Voyage d'outremer du Comte de Ponthieu' (a Roman of the thirteenth century), which has curious analogies both with this tale of the Pilgrims, with another Roman story I have in MS., and with that of 'The Irish Princess' in 'Patrañas.' Adèle de Ponthieu was married to Thiébault de Domart. They go a pilgrimage to S. James of Compostella to pray that they may have heirs. Robbers overcome them by the way, bind Thiébault to a tree, and ill-treat Adèle. As soon as she escapes from them Thiébault calls to her to cut his bonds with his sword; she, judging it better that he should die than live to blush for her, attempts to take his life with the same blow which severs the cord; he foresees her intention and circumvents it. He does not divine her motive, but yet makes no allusion to the matter till they return from their pilgrimage, then he puts it as an A and B case to her father; the father decides such a woman should die. She is put into a barrel and cast into the sea; the barrel is picked up by merchants who sell her to the Sultan, and she becomes the mother of the mother of Saladin. Meantime her father and husband cannot rest for love of her, they go to search the world over for her. A shipwreck makes them the property of the Sultan who makes a present of them to Adèle. She, recognising them, pretends to be a Saracen soothsayer, and by revealing her acquaintance with their previous history, like the injured Queen in 'The Pilgrims,' brings them to an expression of penitence and of lasting love for her. She then escapes with them and lives happily with her husband, the Pope prescribing to her a certain penitential rule of life to purge her involuntary infidelity.

APPENDIX F. p. 392.

               The centenarian Guillaume Boucher (1506-1606) gives in his 'Sérées' a French story (called 'The Fish-bone') of a quack doctor favoured by luck, to whom he gives the name of Messire Grillo. Charles Louandre ('Chefs-d'oeuvre des conteurs Français,' p. 278) points out that doctors hardly ever figure in popular literature before the sixteenth century, though after the Renaissance they became the constant subject of satire; and that thus Molière did little more than collect the jokes at their expense which had been floating during the previous half-century.


[1] 'Contes Populaires des anciens Bretons, précédés d'un Essai sur l'origine des Epopées chevaleresques de la Table Ronde.' Par Th. de la Villemarqué. Paris et Leipzig, 1842.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Appendices
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: Notes

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