To Book List

To Story List

To Main Page

International Folktales Collection

To Next Story

To Previous Story

Story No. 860

Vineyard I was and Vineyard I am

Book Name:

Italian Popular Tales

Tradition: Italy

Translated from the dialect. (Venetian, Bernoni, Trad. pop. venez., Punt. I. p. 11, Vigna era e Vigna son)

A king, averse to marriage, commanded his steward to remain single. The latter, however, one day saw a beautiful girl named Vigna, and married her secretly. Although he kept her closely confined in her chamber, the king became suspicious and sent the steward off on an embassy. After his departure the king entered the apartment occupied by him, and saw his officer's wife sleeping. He did not disturb her, but, in leaving the room, dropped one of his gloves accidentally on the bed. When the husband returned he found it, but kept a discreet silence, ceasing, however, all demonstrations of affection, believing his wife had been faithless. The king, anxious to see again the beautiful woman, made a feast and ordered the steward to bring his wife. He denied in vain that he had one, but brought her at last, and while every one else was talking gayly at the feast she was silent. The king observed it and asked her the cause of her silence; and she answered with a pun on her name: "Vineyard I was and Vineyard I am, I was loved and no longer am: I know not for what reason the Vineyard has lost its season." Her husband, who heard this, replied: "Vineyard thou wast and Vineyard thou art, loved thou wast and no longer art: the Vineyard has lost its season for the lion's claw." The king, who understood what he meant, answered: "I entered the Vineyard, I touched the leaves, but I swear by my crown that I have not tasted the fruit." Then the steward understood that his wife was innocent, and the two made peace and always after lived happy and contented.[25]


[25] In the original, what the husband, wife, and king, say, is in verse, as follows:—

"Vigna era e Vigna son,

Amata era e più non son;

E non so per qual cagion,

Che la Vigna à perso la so stagion."

"Vigna eri e Vigna sei,

Amata eri e più non sei:

Per la branca del leon

La Vigna à perso la so stagion."

"Ne la Vigna io son intrato,

Di quei pampani n' ò tocato;

Ma lo guiro per la corona che porto in capo,

Che de quel fruto no ghe n' ò gustato."

This story is also found in Pitrè, No. 76, "Lu Bracceri di manu manca" ("The Usher on the Left Hand," i. e., of the king, who also had one on his right hand); Pomiglianesi, No. 6, "Villa;" and, in the shape of a poetical dialogue, in Vigo, Raccolta amplissima di Canti popolari siciliani. Secunda ediz. Catania, 1870-1874, No. 5145.

The story is told of Pier delle Vigne by Jacopo d'Aqui (XIII. cent.) in his Chronicon imaginis mundi, and of the Marchese di Pescara by Brantôme, Vie des Dames galantes. These versions will be found with copious references in Pitrè and Imbriani as cited above: see also, Cantilene e Ballate, Strambotti e Madrigali nei Secoli XIII. e XIV., A cura di Giosuè Carducci, Pisa, 1871, p. 26. The story is discussed in an exhaustive manner by S. Prato in the Romania, vol. XII. p. 535; XIV. p. 132, "L' Orma del Leone."

This story is found only in the Greek and Hebrew versions of The Seven Wise Masters, and in the Arabic Seven Viziers. It did not pass into any of the Occidental versions, although it was known to Boccaccio, who based on it the fifth novel of the first day of the Decameron. Either, then, the story is a late adaptation of the Oriental tale, which is unlikely, or it comes from some now lost, but once popular Italian version of the Oriental form of The Seven Wise Masters.[26]

The three following stories are found only in the Western, or European versions of the collection. The first, technically called "Vaticinium" or "The Prophecy," relates that a son who understood the language of birds heard the prediction that his father and mother should come to such want that they would not have bread to eat; but that he, the son, should rise so high that his father should offer him water to wash his hands with. The father, enraged at this prediction, threw his son into the sea. He was rescued, and after many adventures, married the daughter of the king of Sicily. One day, while riding through Messina, he saw his father and mother, meanly dressed, sitting at the door of an inn. He alighted from his horse, entered their house, and asked for food. After his father and mother had brought him water to wash his hands he revealed himself to them and forgave his father for his cruelty.

The only Italian version, and disfigured by some extraneous details, is in the Mantuan tales (Visentini, No. 50): "Fortune aid me." Here the son does not hear the prophecy from the birds, but an angel tells a king, who has long desired a son, that he shall have one whom he shall one day serve. When the child was ten years old the king was so vexed by the prediction that he exposed his son in a wood. The child was found by a magician, who brought him up, and from whom he afterwards escaped. He went to the court of the king, his father, and won the hand of the princess (his own sister) by leaping his horse over a broad ditch. At the marriage banquet the king handed his son a glass of wine, and the latter recognized him and exclaimed: "Behold, the father serves the son." The marriage was of course given up and the previous aversion of the sister explained.[27]

Closely connected with the original story in The Seven Wise Masters is the class of stories where the hero is acquainted with the language of animals, and attains by means of it some high position (generally becoming pope) after he has been driven from home by his father. The following version is from Monferrato (Comparetti, No. 56) and is entitled:

43. The Language of Animals.

[26] For the Oriental versions see Essai sur les Fables indiennes, par A. Loiseleur Deslongchamps, Paris, 1838, p. 96; Das Buch von den sieben weisen Meistern, aus dem Hebräischen und Griechischen zum ersten Male übersetzt von H. Sengelmann, Halle, 1842, p. 40 (Mischle Sandabâr), p. 87 (Syntipas), Tausend und Eine Nacht, Deutsch von Max Habicht, Von der Hagen und Schall, Breslau, 1836, vol. XV. p. 112 (Arabic); Li Romans des Sept Sages, nach der Pariser Handschrift herausgegeben von H. A. Keller, Tübingen, 1836, p. cxxxviii.; Dyocletianus Leben, von Hans von Bühel, herausgegeben von A. Keller, Quedlinburg und Leipzig, 1841, p. 45. All students of this subject are acquainted with Domenico Comparetti's masterly essay Ricerche intorno al Libro di Sindibâd, Milan, 1869, which has recently been made accessible to English readers in a version published by the English Folk-Lore Society in 1882. The Persian and Arabic texts may be consulted in an English translation, reprinted with valuable introduction and notes in the following work: The Book of Sindibād; or, The Story of the King, his Son, the Damsel, and the Seven Vazirs, From the Persian and Arabic, with Introduction, Notes, and an Appendix, by W. A. Clouston. Privately printed, 1884 [Glasgow], pp. xvii.-lvi.

[27] For the original version in the various forms of the Western Seven Wise Masters, see Loiseleur-Deslongchamps, p. 162; Keller, Romans, p. ccxxix., and Dyocletianus, p. 63; and D'Ancona, Il Libro dei Sette Savi di Roma, p. 121. To the references in D'Ancona may be added: Deux Rédactions du Roman des Sept Sages, G. Paris, Paris, 1876, pp. 47, 162; Benfey, in Orient und Occident, III. 420; Romania, VI. p. 182; Mélusine, p. 384; and Basque Legends, collected by Rev. W. Webster, London, 1879, pp. 136, 137.


To Next Story

To Previous Story