The Grateful Beasts

The Grateful Beasts (German: Die dankbaren Thiere) is a Hungarian fairy tale collected by Georg von Gaal (hu) in Mährchen der Magyaren (1822).[1] The tale was also published by Hermann Kletke in Märchensaal, Vol II (1845).[2]

The Grateful Beasts
Folk tale
NameThe Grateful Beasts
Data
Aarne-Thompson grouping
  • ATU 613 (Truth and Falsehood)
  • ATU 554 (The Grateful Animals)
CountryHungary
Published in
Related

SynopsisEdit

Three sons set out to seek their fortune. The youngest, Ferko, was so beautiful that his older brothers thought he would be preferred, so they ate his bread while he slept, and refused to share theirs until he let them put out his eyes and break his legs. When they had blinded and crippled him, they left him.

Ferko crawled on and, in the heat of the day, rested under what he thought was a tree, but was a gallows. Two crows talked together, and one told the other that the lake below them would heal any injury, and the dew on the hillside would restore eyesight. As soon as evening came, he washed his face in the dew, and crawled down to the lake and was whole again. He took a flask of the water and went on. On the way, he met and healed an injured wolf, mouse, and queen bee.

Ferko found a kingdom and sought service with the king. His two brothers worked for the same king and were afraid he would reveal their wickedness. They accused him of being a wicked magician who had come to kidnap the king's daughter. The king summoned Ferko, told him the accusation, and said he would execute him unless he performed three tasks, in which case he would be exiled. His brothers suggested that he had to build a castle more beautiful than the king's. The princess was distressed by the cruelty of their act. Ferko despaired, but the bee came to him and heard his plight. The bees built such a castle, of flowers.

 
Ferko commands the wolves to attack the court. Illustration for The Yellow Fairy Book (1894).

For the next task, they suggested that the corn had been cut but not put in barns; let Ferko put all the corn in the kingdom into the barns during the night, not losing a stalk. The mice gathered the corn for him. For the third task, the brothers suggested that he drive all the wolves in the kingdom to the hill they were on. At this, the princess burst into tears, and her father locked her in a tower. The wolf gathered all his fellows and came to the hill, where the wolves tore the king, the wicked brothers, and all his court to pieces.

Ferko freed the princess and married her, and the wolves went peacefully back to the woods.

TranslationsEdit

The tale was also translated as Die drei Thiere ("The Three Animals") by German philologist Heinrich Christoph Gottlieb Stier (de).[3] It was also translated as A’ háláadatos Állatok, in the Hungarian periodical Hasznos Mulatságok, in 1822.[4]

Andrew Lang translated the tale as The Grateful Beasts and included it in The Yellow Fairy Book.[5]

AnalysisEdit

Gottlieb Stier interpreted the hero's name, Ferkö, as related to the Hungarian word for wolf, farkas.[6]

This tale, in particular, is classified in the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index as ATU 613, "Truth and Falsehood", and ATU 554, "The Grateful Animals".[7] As noted by folklorist Stith Thompson, the type ATU 613 sometimes begins when one of the travelers refuses to share his food until his companion blinds himself. The now blinded man, abandoned by his friends, wanders about until he hears some voices (ghosts, spirits, animals, witches) conversing with each other and commenting on a place that hides healing properties. The man arrives at the place they mentioned and heals his sight.[8] According to Hungarian scholarship, tale type ATU 613, "Truth and Falsehood", is "widespread in Hungarian speaking areas" and traceable to antiquity.[9]

The narrative action of tale type ATU 554, remarks folklorist Hans-Jörg Uther, is developed by the aid of the helpful animals. Each of the animals comes from one element: water, earth and air.[10]

MotifsEdit

The motif of crippling the hero is found in various other tales, such as "True and Untrue" and "The Prince and the Princess in the Forest". "True and Untrue" also has trickery about food; "The Three Treasures of the Giants" is similar, although the hero has no food because he does not wish to take it from his poor mother.

The animals who help after being spared are common – as in "The Two Brothers", or "The Queen Bee", or "The Death of Koschei the Deathless" – and in "The Gold-bearded Man" and "Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful", they help with envious, false claims. These envious claims are common in other tales, without the beasts, such as "Boots and the Troll", "Thirteenth", "Esben and the Witch" and "Dapplegrim".

In many tales, the king who insists on the task is punished. These include "The Gifts of the Magician", "Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful", "The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa", and "King Fortunatus's Golden Wig".

VariantsEdit

In a Slavic variant, Morning-Dew, three brothers go on a journey, the two elders insist the youngest share his bread with them, promising to share theirs with him later. Later, the elder brothers promise to give their bread if the youngest put out their eyes. He does so and his brothers abandon him in the mountains. Fortunately, he listens to two vila saying that the morning dew can restore one's sight. He cures himself with the morning dew and uses it on a blind mouse, a blind bee and a blind dove, and they promise to help him in the future. The youth goes to another city to seek service, and his brothers recognize him. Fearing their brother telling the truth, they lie to his master about his being able to perform impossible tasks, which he does with the help of the mouse, the bee and the dove.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ von Gaal, Georg. Mährchen der Magyaren. Wien: J. B. Wallishausser. 1822. pp. 175-194. [1]
  2. ^ Kletke, Hermann. Märchensaal: Märchen aller Völker für Jung und Alt. Volume 2. Berlin: Verlag von Carl Reimarus. 1845. pp. 19-26. [2]
  3. ^ Stier, G. Ungarische Sagen und Märchen. Berlin: Ferdinand Dümmlers Buchhandlung, 1850. pp. 65-70.
  4. ^ Judit Gulyás. "Giovan Francesco Straparola és Gaál György meséi a Hasznos Mulatságokban" [The Tales of Giovan Francesco Straparola and Georg von Gaal in Hasznos Mulatságok]. In: Tanulmányok a 19. századi magyar szövegfolklórról [The Exploration and Interpretation of Genres of 19th century Hungarian Folklore]. Artes Populares 23. Budapest: ELTE BTK Folklore Tanszék. 2008. pp. 325-328, 432. ISBN 978-963-284-037-6
  5. ^ Lang, Andrew. The Yellow Fairy Book. London: New York; Longmans, Green, And Co. 1906. pp. 64-74. [3]
  6. ^ Stier, G. Ungarische Sagen und Märchen. Berlin: Ferdinand Dümmlers Buchhandlung, 1850. pp. 139-140.
  7. ^ Judit Gulyás. "Giovan Francesco Straparola és Gaál György meséi a Hasznos Mulatságokban" [The Tales of Giovan Francesco Straparola and Georg von Gaal in Hasznos Mulatságok]. In: Tanulmányok a 19. századi magyar szövegfolklórról [The Exploration and Interpretation of Genres of 19th century Hungarian Folklore]. Artes Populares 23. Budapest: ELTE BTK Folklore Tanszék. 2008. pp. 325-326. ISBN 978-963-284-037-6
  8. ^ Thompson, Stith (1977). The Folktale. University of California Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-520-03537-2
  9. ^ Gábor Biczó. "Friendship in Folk Tales". In: Identitás és Népmese [Identity and the Folktale]. Edited by Bálint Péter. Hajdúböszörmény. 2011. p. 172 (footnote nr. 12). ISBN 978-963-89167-9-2
  10. ^ Uther, Hans-Jörg. Handbuch zu den "Kinder- und Hausmärchen" der Brüder Grimm: Entstehung - Wirkung - Interpretation. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter. 2013. p. 40.
  11. ^ Houghton, Louise Seymour. The Russian grandmother's wonder tales. New York: C. Scribner's sons. 1906. pp. 275-280.

External linksEdit