The Fairy Aurora

"The Fairy Aurora" (in Romanian: "Zâna Zorilor", tr. "Fairy of Dawn") is a fairy tale written by Ioan Slavici and published in June 1872.[1] Mihai Eminescu would have urged him to write this first story of his, which was read at Junimea in two sessions and was published in the magazine Convorbiri Literare.[2]

The Fairy Aurora
by Ioan Slavici
The Whirlwind Seizes the Wreath.jpg
Original titleZâna Zorilor
CountryUnited Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia
Genre(s)fairy tale
Published inConvorbiri Literare
Publication typeArt magazine
Publication dateJune 1872
The Fairy of Dawn and the Prince

It appeared in English as "The Fairy Aurora" in the Roumanian Fairy Tales with 18 Romanian stories published in 1885 by Henry Holt and Company in New York City.[3]


The ruler of a vast empire has one eye that laughs and one eye that cries, and the reason is only known to him. His three sons, Florea, Costan, and Petru each ask his him on different occasions. Only the youngest, Petru, obtains the answer: the Emperor cries because he thinks that after he dies his son will not be able to protect their realm from enemies, and that only the water from the fountain of the Fairy of the Dawn will be able to make both his eyes laugh again.

Florea and Costan depart on the quest first, but, after escaping a vicious dragon on the bridge, never return home. Petru tries his luck, but is less successful that his brothers. His old nurse, back at the palace, advises him he should take the Emperor's old and trusty horse to cross the bridge. The horse is magical and can reach different speeds. With this fabulous steed, Prince Petru kills the dragon, crosses the bridge, and arrives in a desert.


Andrew Lang also translated this Romanian tale with the title The Fairy of the Dawn, published in The Violet Fairy Book. The king has one weeping eye and one laughing eye, and asks for the water from the fountain of the Fairy of the Dawn for both eyes to laugh again.[4]

The tale was translated into German by Mite Kremnitz and Petre Ispirescu as Die Fee der Morgenröthe, in 1882.[5]

A later translation titled the tale The Dawn Fairy.[6]


Tale typeEdit

The tale is classified in the international Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index as tale type ATU 551, "The Water of Life" ("Sons on a Quest for a Wonderful Remedy for Their Father").[7][8]

Despite its origins as a literary tale, author Ioan Slavici claimed that he heard some oral versions across Romania: Smoefa cea frumoasă; in Zărand, Zîna codrilor; in Comloșu (Crișana), Pĕtru Fĕt-frumos viteaz; and in Timișoara, Zîna zorilor. He stated that, barring a few differences between versions, they all contained the same plot points: the Emperor's eyes, Petru's journey, the help from the holy sisters, the miraculous fountain, the brothers' deception.[9]


According to scholar Adela Ileana Drăucean, the dragons guard the bridge between the kingdom, representing the obstacle the hero, Făt-Frumos, must cross to advance on his quest.[10] The tale also presents, as perilous adversaries to the hero, three Vâlva Pădurii, "dark spirit[s] of the forest" with magical powers: "the beldam from the copper forest (Vâlva Pădurii de aramă), the beldam from the silver forest (Vâlva Pădurii de argint) and the beldam from the golden forest (Vâlva Pădurii de aur)."[11]

Scholar Simona Galațchi interprets the "Fairy of Dawn" as a character associated with the dawn, sunlight, youth and rejuvenation, specially due to three magical items she owns: a fountain of life-giving water, a ring of power and "the wine of youth".[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Constantin Mohanu, „Preface” in Ioan Slavici, Limir-împărat, Editura Ion Creangă, Biblioteca școlarului, Bucharest, 1986, pp. 6
  2. ^ Șerban Cioculescu, Istoria literaturii române III - Epoca marilor clasici, Editura Academiei R. S. România, Bucharest, 1973, pp. 376
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Romanian folktales page!, Roumanian Fairy Tales".
  4. ^ Lang, Andrew (1901), The Violet Fairy Book, London; New York: Longmans, Green, pp. 165–198
  5. ^ Kremnitz, Mite; Ispirescu, Petre (1882), Rumänische Märchen (in German), Leipzig: W. Friedrich, pp. 238–296
  6. ^ Sturdza, Ioana; Vianu, Raymond; Lăzărescu, Mary; Hillard, Richard. Fairy Tales and Legends from Romania. New York: Twayne Publishers. 1971. pp. 245-283.
  7. ^ Ashliman, D. L. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language: Based on the Aarne-Thompson Classification System. Bibliographies and Indexes in World Literature, vol. 11. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1987. p. 119. ISBN 0-313-25961-5.
  8. ^ Lang, Andrew; Philip, Neil. A World of fairy tales. New York: Dial Books, 1994. p. 255.
  9. ^ Slavici, Ioan. "Scrisoarea D-lui I. Slavici cătră Redacținue relativă la "Zîna Zorilor"." In: Convorbiri Literare No. 3 - Anul VI: 1 Aprilie 1872-1 Martie 1873. Redactor: Jacob Negruzzi. Iași: Tipografia Națională, 1873. p. 90.
  10. ^ Drăucean, Adela Ileana. "The Names of Romanian Fairy-Tale Characters in the Works of the Junimist Classics". In: Studii și cercetări de onomastică și lexicologie, II (1-2), p. 28. ISSN 2247-7330.
  11. ^ Draucean, Adela Ileana. "The Names of Romanian Fairy-Tale Characters in the Works of the Junimist Classics". In: Studii și cercetări de onomastică și lexicologie, II (1-2), p. 30. ISSN 2247-7330.
  12. ^ Galațchi, Simona. "The other world in the Romanian folk tales". In: Language and Literature – European Landmarks of Identity, 8 (2011), p. 219. ISSN 1843-1577.

External linksEdit