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It is from the quasi-literary spread of
stories like this that the claim for an Oriental origin of all folk
tales has received its chief strength, and it was necessary,
therefore, to include one or two of them in _Europa's Fairy Book_
(Androcles is another). But the mode of transmission is quite
different and definitely traceable and, for the most part, the tales
remain entirely unchanged; whereas, in the true folk tale, the popular
story-tellers exercised their choice, modifying incidents and giving
local colour.


There is no doubt about the European character of this tale, which is
found in Brittany, Picardy, Lorraine, among the Basques, in Spain,
Corsica, Italy, Tyrol, Germany (though not in Grimm), among
Lithuanians, Moravians, Roumanians, Greeks, Irish, Scotch, Danes,
Norwegians (Cosquin, ii., 50). The central idea of the Rage-Wager is
retained throughout, and in many places the punishment is the
same--the loss of a strip of skin. In all but three instances the
story is told of three brothers, which practically proves its
identity. I have given the Irish version in _More Celtic Fairy Tales_.

The "sells" however change considerably, though in most of them the
final dénoument comes with the death or wounding of the wife. The
pigs' tails incident is also very common and is indeed found in
another set of tales, more of the Master Thief type. Campbell's No. 45
had an entirely different set, some of them very amusing.
Mac-A-Rusgaich has all three meals at once and lies down. He holds the
plough and does nothing else; he sees after the mountain; literally
casts ox-eyes at the master, and makes a sheep foot-path out of
sheep's feet. I have taken from Campbell the direction to wash horses
and stable within and without, though it does not occur elsewhere. Yet
Mac-A-Rusgaich has a bout with a giant, in which he slits an
artificial stomach, like Jack the Giant Killer; and this incident
occurs in four other of the European tales, again showing identity.
"Keep cool" is thus an interesting example of identity of framework,
with variation of incident.


The sneaking regard of the folk-mind for the clever rogue who can
outwit the guardians of order (the ever-present enemy of the folk) was
shown in early days by the myth of Rhampsinitus in Herodotus, ii.,
121, which is found to this day among the Italians (see Crane, No. 44,
and S. Prato, _La Leggenda del Tesoro di Rampsinite_, Como, 1882). But
the more usual European form is that I have chosen for the text, the
formula of which might be summed up as follows:

Apprenticeship in thievery--Purse or life--Hanging "sell"--Master
Thief--Three Tests--Horse from Stable--Sheet off bed--Priest in
bag--Horse from under (Thumb-Bung).

Almost the whole of this is found as early as Straparola i., 2, where
Cassandrino is ordered by the provost of Perugia to steal his bed and
his horse and to bring to him in a sack the rector of the village.

The purse incident occurs in Brittany, Piedmont, Tuscany, and Tyrol;
in Iceland (Arnason, p. 609) occurs the man twice hanged which also
occurs in Norway, Ireland, Saxony, Tuscany, and in Germany (Kuhn and
Schwartz, 362); in Servia (Vuk, 46) the Master Thief steals sheep by
throwing two shoes successively in the road, which also occurs in
Bengal (Day, xi.); the theft of the horse occurs in Brittany, Norway,
Ireland, Tuscany, Scotland (Campbell, 40), Flanders, in Basque and
Catalan, Russia and Servia. The third test of kidnapping the priest
occurs in Brittany, Flanders, Norway, Basque, Catalan, Scotland,
Ireland, Lithuania, Tuscany. In Iceland the persons carried away are a
king and a queen.

The three tests of the Master Thief, the stealing of bed, horse, and
priest, occur as early as Straparola, i., 2, who also has a somewhat
similar story of the "Scholar in Magic," viii., 5, which contains the
zigzag transformation of the _Arabian Nights_. Both forms occur in
Grimm, 68, 192. While the three tests are fairly uniform throughout
Europe, the introduction by which the lad becomes a thief and proves
himself a Master Thief varies considerably; and I have had to make a
selection rather than a collation.

In some forms the farmer has three sons, of whom the youngest adopts
thievery as a profession, which indeed it was in the Middle Ages (as
we know from the Cul-le-jatte of _The Cloister and the Hearth_). In
Hahn, 3, the Master Thief has to bring a "Drakos" instead of a priest.
Curiously enough, in Gonzenbach, 83, the Master Thief has to bring
back a "dragu."

In many of the variants the Master Thief executes his tricks in order
to gain the King's daughter by a sort of Bride Wager. But in most
cases he does them in order to escape the natural consequences of his


The adult reader will of course recognize that this is the story of
Cupid and Psyche, as told by Apuleius, and translated with such
felicity by Pater in his _Marius_, Pt. i., ch. 5. Though the names of
the gods and goddesses--Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Juno, Proserpine,
etc.--are scattered through the tale, it is now acknowledged on all
hands that it has nothing to do with mythology but is a fairy tale
pure and simple, as indeed is acknowledged by Apuleius who calls it a
"fabella anilis." From this point of view it is of extreme interest to
the student of the folk-tale as practically the same tale, with the
Unseen Bridegroom, the Sight Taboo, the Jealous Mother-in-law, the
Tasks, and the Visit to the Nether-World, occur in contemporary
folk-tales scattered throughout Europe, from Norway (Dasent, "East o'
the Sun and West o' the Moon") to Italy (Gonzenbach No. 15, Pitre No.
18 given in Crane No. 1, _King of Love_); for the variants elsewhere
see Koehler on Gonzenbach. The earliest form of the modern versions is
found in Basile (1637), _Pentamerone_ v., 4, _The Golden Root_.

Now there are several circumstances showing the identity of the
ancient and modern forms of this story. All of them contain the
punishment for curiosity motive, which is doubled both in Apuleius
(with the coffer at the end) and in Basile and Crane. In several of
the folk-tales the Ant-Help occurs in the performance of the tasks,
and in Apuleius the successive visits to Juno and Ceres evidently
represent the visits to the Queen-mother's sisters, often known as
ogresses, found in Dasent, Basile, and in Grimm 88. It is possible, of
course, that in some cases dim memories of Apuleius have percolated
down to the folk, as is shown by the name of the hero in Pitre's
version _Il Re d'Amore_. Kawczynski (Abh. d. Krakauer Akad. 1909, xlv.
1) declares for the derivation of the whole series of folk-tales from
Apuleius but against this is the doubt whether this author was at all
known during the Middle Ages.

But, to prove that the folk-tales were not derived directly or solely
from the classical romance they, in almost every case, had a series of
adventures not found there, including the incidents, Obstacles to
Pursuit, False Bride, and Sale of Bed. Now these incidents really
belong to another formula, that of the Master-Maid, in which an ogre's
or giant's daughter, helps the hero to perform tasks, flees away with
him, is pursued by the ogre, loses her beloved through an Oblivion
Kiss and has to win him again from his False Bride by purchasing the
right of spending three nights with him. These incidents come in
logically in the Master-Maid formula but are dragged in without real
relevance into Cupid and Psyche; yet they occur as early as Basile
where there is a dim reminiscence of the Oblivion Kiss. In
reconstructing the formula I have therefore omitted these incidents,
reserving them for their proper place (see Master-Maid).

Cupid and Psyche is of special interest to the student of the
folk-tale since it is a means of testing the mythological, the
anthropological, and the Indian theories of its origin. The
mythological interpretation is nowadays so discredited that it is
needless to discuss it, especially as we have seen that the
mythological names given by Apuleius are only dragged in perforce. The
anthropological explanation, given most fully by Andrew Lang in his
admirable introduction to Addington's translation of Apuleius in the
_Bibliotheque de Carabas_, gives savage parallels from all quarters of
the globe to the seven chief incidents making up the tale, but leaves
altogether out of account the artistic concatenation of the incidents
in the tale itself and does not consider the later complications of
the European folk-tales connected with it. M. Cosquin and others bring
in the Vedic myth of Urvasi and Pururavas, but we have seen reason to
reject the notion that the tale is, in its essence, mythological, and
therefore need not consider its relation to Indian mythology. Cosquin,
however, gives reference to the tale of Tulisa taken down from a
washerwoman of Benares in 1833 (_Asiatic Journal_, new series, vol.
2), which has the invisible husband and the breaking of taboo, the
jealous mother-in-law, and the tasks. This is indeed a close
parallelism sufficient to raise the general question of relation
between the Indian and the European folk-tale. But the earlier
existence of the tale in Apuleius and Basile would give the preference
to European influence on India rather than _vice versa_.

I should add that I have followed Apuleius in giving a symbolic name
to the heroine of the tale, in order to suggest its relation to the
classical folk-tale of Cupid and Psyche, but not of course to indicate
that it is in any sense mythological. The Descent-to-hell incident,
which is found both in the classical and in the modern European forms
and therefore in my reconstruction is only, after all, the application
of a common form to the notion of difficult Tasks, which is of the
essence of the story.


This is one of the oldest and widest spread tales of the world, and
the resultant formula was, therefore, more than usually difficult to
reconstruct. The essence of the tale consists in the Menial
Hero--Three Tasks--Master-Maid Help--Obstacles to Pursuit--Oblivion
Kiss--False Bride--Sale of Bed--Happy Marriage.

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