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Story No. 826

The Griffin

Book Name:

Italian Popular Tales

Tradition: Italy

(Neapolitan, Imbriani, Pomiglianesi, p. 195, L'Auciello Crifone) Translated from the dialect.

There was once a king who had three sons. His eyes were diseased, and he called in a physician who said that to cure them he needed a feather of the griffin. Then the king said to his sons: "He who finds this feather for me shall have my crown." The sons set out in search of it. The youngest met an old man, who asked him what he was doing. He replied: "Papa is ill. To cure him a feather of the griffin is necessary. And papa has said that whoever finds the feather shall have his crown." The old man said: "Well, here is some corn. When you reach a certain place, put it in your hat. The griffin will come and eat it. Seize him, pull out a feather, and carry it to papa." The youth did so, and for fear that some one should steal it from him, he put it into his shoe, and started all joyful to carry it to his father. On his way he met his brothers, who asked him if he had found the feather. He said No; but his brothers did not believe him, and wanted to search him. They looked everywhere, but did not find it. Finally they looked in his shoe and got it. Then they killed the youngest brother and buried him, and took the feather to their father, saying that they had found it. The king healed his eyes with it. A shepherd one day, while feeding his sheep, saw that his dog was always digging in the same place, and went to see what it was, and found a bone. He put it to his mouth, and saw that it sounded and said: "Shepherd, keep me in your mouth, hold me tight, and do not let me go! For a feather of the griffin, my brother has played the traitor, my brother has played the traitor."

One day the shepherd, with this whistle in his mouth, was passing by the king's palace, and the king heard him, and called him to see what it was. The shepherd told him the story, and how he had found it. The king put it to his mouth, and the whistle said: "Papa! papa! keep me in your mouth, hold me tight, and do not let me go. For a feather of the griffin, my brother has played the traitor, my brother has played the traitor." Then the king put it in the mouth of the brother who had killed the youngest, and the whistle said: "Brother! brother! keep me in your mouth, hold me fast, and do not let me go. For a feather of the griffin, you have played the traitor, you have played the traitor." Then the king understood the story and had his two sons put to death. And thus they killed their brother and afterwards were killed themselves.[15]


[15] Another version from Avellino is in the same collection, p. 201. Other Italian versions are: Pitrè, No. 79; Gonz., No. 51; De Gub., Sto. Stefano, No. 20; De Nino, No. 2; Comparetti, No. 28 (Monferrato); Ive, Fiabe pop. rovignesi, p. 20; No. 3, "El Pumo de uoro;" Schneller, No. 51; and Corazzini, p. 455 (Benevento).

In general see Ive's and Köhler's notes to stories above cited, and Romania, No. 24, p. 565. The corresponding Grimm story is No. 28, "The Singing Bone."

The feminine counterpart of "Boots," or the successful youngest brother, is Cinderella, the youngest of three sisters who despise and ill-treat her. Her usual place is in the chimney-corner, and her name is derived from the grime of cinders and ashes (her name in German is Aschenputtel). Assisted by some kind fairy who appears in various forms, she reveals herself in her true shape, captivates the prince, who finally recognizes her by the slipper. There are two branches of this story: the one just mentioned, and one where the heroine assumes a repulsive disguise in order to escape the importunities of a father who wishes to marry her. This second branch may be distinguished by the name of "Allerleirauh," the well-known Grimm story of this class. For the first branch of this story we have selected a Florentine story (Novellaja fior. p. 151) called:

9. Cinderella.


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