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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Roma Myth: God's Godson

There was a queen. From youth to old age that queen never bore but one son. That son was a hero. So soon as he was born, he said to his father, 'Father, have you no sword or club?'

'No, my child, but I will order one to be made for you.'

The son said, 'Don't order one, father: I will go just as I am.'

So the son took and departed, and journeyed a long while, and took no heed, till he came into a great forest. So in that forest he stretched himself beneath a tree to rest a bit, for he was weary. And he sat there a while. Then the holy God and St. Peter came on the lad; and he was unbaptized. So the holy God asked him, 'Where are you going, my lad?'

'I am going in quest of heroic achievements, old fellow.'

Then the holy God thought and thought, and made a church. And he caused sleep to fall on that lad, and bade St. Peter lift him, and went with him to the church, and gave him the name Handak. And the holy God said to him, 'Godson, a hero like you there shall never be any other; and do you take my god-daughter.'

For there was a maiden equally heroic, and equally baptized by God. And she was his god-daughter, and he told his godson to take her. And he gave him a wand of good fortune and a sword. And he endowed him with strength, and set him down. And his godfather departed to heaven, like the holy God that he was.

And Handak perceived that God had endowed him with strength, and he set out in quest of heroic achievements, and journeyed a long while, and took no heed. So he came into a great forest. And there was a dragon three hundred years old. And his eyelashes reached down to the ground, and likewise his hair. And the lad went to him and said, 'All hail.'

'You are welcome.'

Soon as that hero [the dragon] heard his voice, he knew that it was God's godson.

And the lad, Handak, asked him, 'Does God's god-daughter dwell far hence?'

'She dwells not far; it is but a three days' journey.'

And the lad took and departed, and journeyed three days until he came to the maiden's. Soon as the maiden saw him, she recognised him for her godfather's godson. And she let him into her house, and served up food to him, and ate with him and asked him, 'What seek you here, Handak?'

He said, 'I have come on purpose to marry you.'

'With whom?'

'With myself an you will.'

She said, 'I will not have it so without a fight.'

And the lad said, 'Come let us fight.'

And they fell to fighting, and fought three days; and the lad vanquished her. And he took her, and went to their godfather. And he crowned them and made a marriage. And they became rulers over all lands. And I came away, and told the story.

There were an old man and an old woman. From their youth up to their old age they had never had any children (lit. 'made any children of their bones'). So the old woman was always scolding with the old man--what can they do, for there they are old, old people? The old woman said, 'Who will look after us when we grow older still?'

'Well, what am I to do, old woman?'

'Go you, old man, and find a son for us.'

So the old man arose in the morning, and took his axe in his hand, and departed and journeyed till mid-day, and came into a forest, and sought three days and found nothing. Then the old man could do no more for hunger. He set out to return home. So as he was coming back, he found a little snake and put it in a handkerchief, and carried it home. And he brought up the snake on sweet milk. The snake grew a week and two days, and he put it in a jar. The time came when the snake grew as big as the jar. The snake talked with his father, 'My time has come to marry me. Go, father, to the king, and ask his daughter for me.'

When the old man heard that the snake wants the king's daughter, he smote himself with his hands. 'Woe is me, darling! How can I go to the king? For the king will kill me.'

What said he? 'Go, father, and fear not. For what he wants of you, that will I give him.'

The old man went to the king. 'All hail, O king!'

'Thank you, old man.'

'King, I am come to form an alliance by marriage.'

'An alliance by marriage!' said the king. 'You are a peasant, and I am a king.'

'That matters not, O king. If you will give me your daughter, I will give you whatever you want.'

What said the king? 'Old man, if that be so, see this great forest. Fell it all, and make it a level field; and plough it for me, and break up all the earth; and sow it with millet by to-morrow. And mark well what I tell you: you must bring me a cake made with sweet milk. Then will I give you the maiden.'

Said the old man, 'All right, O king.'

The old man went weeping to the snake. When the snake saw his father weeping he said, 'Why weepest thou, father?'

'How should I not weep, darling? For see what the king said, that I must fell this great forest, and sow millet; and it must grow up by to-morrow, and be ripe. And I must make a cake with sweet milk and give it him. Then he will give me his daughter.'

What said the snake? 'Father, don't fear for that, for I will do what you have told me.'

The old man: 'All right, darling, if you can manage it.'

The old man went off to bed.

What did the snake? He arose and made the forest a level plain, and sowed millet, and thought and thought, and it was grown up by daybreak. When the old man got up, he finds a sack of millet, and he made a cake with sweet milk. The old man took the cake and went to the king.

'Here, O king, I have done your bidding.'

When the king saw that, he marvelled. 'My old fellow, hearken to me. I have one thing more for you to do. Make me a golden bridge from my palace to your house, and let golden apple-trees and pear-trees grow on the side of this bridge. Then will I give you my daughter.'

When the old man heard that, he began to weep, and went home.

What said the snake? 'Why weepest thou, father?'

The old man said, 'I am weeping, darling, for the miseries which God sends me. The king wants a golden bridge from his palace to our house, and apple and pear-trees on the side of this bridge.'

The snake said, 'Fear not, father, for I will do as the king said.' Then the snake thought and thought, and the golden bridge was made as the king had said. The snake did that in the night-time. The king arose at midnight; he thought the sun was at meat [i.e. it was noon]. He scolded the servants for not having called him in the morning.

The servants said, 'King, it is night, not day'; and, seeing that, the king marvelled.

In the morning the old man came. 'Good-day, father-in-law.'

'Thank you, father-in-law. Go, father-in-law, and bring your son, that we may hold the wedding.'

He, when he went, said, 'Hearken, what says the king? You are to go there for the king to see you.'

What said the snake? 'My father, if that be so, fetch the cart, and put in the horses, and I will get into it to go to the king.'

No sooner said, no sooner done. He got into the cart and drove to the king. When the king saw him, he trembled with all his lords. One lord older than the rest, said, 'Fly not, O king, it were not well of you. For he did what you told him; and shall not you do what you promised? He will kill us all. Give him your daughter, and hold the marriage as you promised.'

What said the king? 'My old man, here is the maiden whom you demand. Take her to you.'

And he gave him also a house by itself for her to live in with her husband. She, the bride, trembled at him.

The snake said, 'Fear not, my wife, for I am no snake as you see me. Behold me as I am.'

He turned a somersault, and became a golden youth, in armour clad; he had but to wish to get anything. The maiden, when she saw that, took him in her arms and kissed him, and said, 'Live, my king, many years. I thought you would eat me.'

The king sent a man to see how it fares with his daughter. When the king's servant came, what does he see? The maiden fairer, lovelier than before. He went back to the king. 'O king, your daughter is safe and sound.'

'As God wills with her,' said the king. Then he called many people and held the marriage; and they kept it up three days and three nights, and the marriage was consummated. And I came away and told the story.

There was an emperor's son, and he went to hunt. And he departed from the hunters by himself. And by a certain stack there was a maiden. He passed near the stack, and heard her lamenting. He took that maiden, and brought her home.

'See, mother, what I've found.'

His mother took her to the kitchen to the cook to bring her up. She brought her up twelve years. The empress dressed her nicely, and put her in the palace to lay the table. The prince loved her, for she was so fair that in all the world there was none so fair as she. The prince loved her three years, and the empress knew it not.

Once he said, 'I will take a wife, mother.'

'From what imperial family?'

'I wish to marry her who lays the table.'

'Not her, mother's darling!'

'If I don't take her, I shall die.'

'Take her.'

And he took her; he married her. And an order came for him to go to battle. He left her big with child.

The empress called two servants. 'Take her into the forest and kill her, and bring me her heart and little finger.'

They put her in the carriage, and drove her into the forest; after them ran a whelp. And they brought her into the forest, and were going to kill her, and she said, 'Kill me not, for I have used you well.'

'How are we to take her the heart, then?'

'Kill the whelp, for its heart is just like a human one, and cut off my little finger.'

They killed the whelp, and cut off her little finger, and took out the whelp's heart.

And she cried, 'Gather wood for me, and make me a fire; and strip off bark for me, and build me a hut.'

They built her a hut, and made her a fire, and went away home, bringing the heart and the little finger.

She brought forth a son. God and St. Peter came and baptized him; 1 and God gave him a gun that he should become a hunter. Whatever he saw he would kill with the gun. And God gave him the name Silvester. And God made a house of the hut, and the fire no longer died. And God gave them a certain loaf; they were always eating, and it was never finished.

The boy grew big, and he took his gun in his hand, and went into the forest. And what he saw he killed, carried to his mother, and they ate. Walking in the forest, he came upon the dragons' palace, and sat before the door. At mid-day the dragons were coming home. He saw them from afar, eleven (sic) in number; and eleven he shot with his gun, and one he merely stunned. And he took them, and carried them into the palace, and shut them up in a room; and he went to his mother, and said, 'Come with me, mother.'

'Where am I to go to, mother's darling?'

'Come with me, where I take you to.'

He went with her to the palace. 'Take to thee, mother, twelve keys. Go into any room you choose, but into this room do not go.'

He went into the forest to hunt.

She said, 'Why did my son tell me not to go in here? But I will go to see what is there.'

She opened the door.

The dragon asked her, 'If thou art a virgin, be my sister; but if thou art a wife, be my wife.'

'I am a wife.'

'Then be my wife.'

'I will; but will you do the right thing by me?'

'I will.'

'Swear, then.'

I swear.'

p. 31

The dragon swore. The dragon said to her, 'Swear also thou.'

She also swore. They kissed one another on the mouth. She brought him to her into the house; they drank and ate, and loved one another.

Her son came from the forest. She saw him. She said, 'My son is coming; go back into the room.'

He went back, and she shut him in.

In the morning her son went again into the forest to hunt. She admitted the dragon again to her. They drank and ate. He said to her, 'How shall we kill your son? Then we'll live finely. Make yourself ill, and say that you have seen a dream, that he must bring milk from the she-bear for you to drink. Then you'll have nothing to trouble you, for the she-bear will devour him.'

He came home from the forest. 'What's the matter with you, mother?'

'I shall die, but I saw a dream. Bring me milk from the she-bear.'

'I'll bring it you, mother.'

He went into the forest, and found the she-bear. He was going to shoot her.

She cried, 'Stop, man. What do you want?'

'You to give me milk.'

She said, 'I will give it you. Have you a pail?'

'I have.'

'Come and milk.'

He milked her, and brought it to his mother.

'Here, mother.'

She pretended to drink, but poured it forth.

In the morning he went again into the forest, and met the Moon. 'Who art thou?'

'I am the Moon.'

'Be a sister to me.'

'But who art thou?'

'I am Silvester.'

'Then thou art God's godson, for God takes care of thee. I also am God's.'

'Be a sister to me.'

'I will be a sister to thee.'

He went further; he met Friday. 'Who art thou?'

'I am Friday, but who art thou?'

'I am Silvester.'

'Thou art God's godson; I also am God's.'

'Be a sister to me.'

He went home. His mother saw him. 'My son is coming.'

'Send him to the wild sow to bring thee milk, for she will devour him.'

'Always sick, mother?'

'I am. I have seen a dream. Bring me milk from the wild sow.'

I know not whether or no I shall bring it, but I will try.'

He went; he found the sow; he was going to shoot her with his gun. She cried, 'Don't, don't shoot me. What do you want?'

'Give me milk.'

'Have you a pail? come and milk.'

He brought it to his mother. She pretended to drink, but poured it forth. He went again into the forest.

She admitted the dragon to her. 'In vain, for the sow has not devoured him.'

'Then send him to the Mountains of Blood, that butt at one another like rams, to bring thee water, the water of life and the water of healing. If he does not die there, he never will.'

'I have seen a dream, that you bring me water from the Mountains of Blood, which butt at one another like rams, for then there will be nothing the matter with me.'

He went to the Moon.

'Whither away, brother?'

'I am going to the mountains to fetch water for my mother.'

'Don't go, brother; you will die there.'

'Bah! I will go there.'

'Take thee my horse when thou goest, for my horse will carry thee thither. And take thee a watch, for they butt at one another from morning till noon, and at noon they rest for two hours. So when you come there at the twelfth hour, draw water in two pails from the two wells.'

He came thither at mid-day, and dismounted, and drew water in two pails, the water of life and the water of healing. And he came back to the Moon; and the Moon said, 'Lie down and sleep, and rest, for you are worn out.'

She hid that water, and poured in other.

He arose. 'Come, sister, I will depart home.'

'Take my horse, and go riding. Take the saddle-bags.'

He went home to his mother. His mother saw him coming on horseback, and said to the dragon, 'My son is coming on horseback.'

Tell him that you have seen a dream, that you bind his fingers behind his back with a silken cord; and that if he can burst it he will become a hero, and you will grow strong.'

'Bind away, mother.'

She made a thick silken cord, and bound his fingers behind his back. He tugged, and grew red in the face; he tugged again, he grew blue; he tugged the third time, he grew black.

And she cried, 'Come, dragon, and cut his throat.'

The dragon came to him. 'Well, what shall I do to you now?'

'Cut me all in bits, and put me in the saddle-bags, and place me on my horse. Thither, whence he carried me living, let him carry me dead.'

He cut him in pieces, put him in the saddle-bags, and placed him on the horse. 'Go, whence thou didst carry him living, carry him dead.'

The horse went straight to the Moon. The Moon came out, and saw him, and took him in, and called Wednesday, and called Friday; and they laid him in a big trough, and washed him bravely, and placed him on a table, and put him all together, bit by bit; and they took the water of healing, and sprinkled him, and he became whole; and they took the water of life, and sprinkled him, and he came to life.

'Ah! I was sleeping soundly.' 1

'You would have slept for ever if I had not come.'

'I will go, sister, to my mother.'

'Go not, brother.'

'Bah! I will.'

'Well, go, and God be with thee. Take thee my sword.'

He went to his mother. His mother was singing and dancing with the dragon. He went in to the dragon. 'Good day to you both.'


'Come, what shall I do to you, dragon?'

'Cut me in little pieces, and put me in the saddle-bags, and place me on my horse. Whence he carried me living, let him carry me also dead.'

He cut him in little pieces, put him in the saddle-bags, placed him on his horse, and dug out the horse's eyes. 'Go whither thou wilt.'

Away went the horse, and kept knocking his head against the trees; and the pieces of flesh kept falling from the saddle-bags. The crows kept eating the flesh.

Silvester shot a hare, and skinned it, and spitted it, and roasted it at the fire. And he said to his mother, 'Mother, look straight at me.'

His mother looked at him. He struck her in the eyes, and her eyes leapt out of her head. And he took her by the hand, led her to a jar, said to her, 'Mother, when thou hast filled this jar with tears, then God pardon thee; and when thou hast eaten a bundle of hay, and filled the jar with tears, then God pardon thee, and restore thee thine eyes.'

And he bound her there, and departed, and left her three years. In three years she came back to his recollection. 'I will go to my mother, and see what she is doing.'

Now she has filled the jar, and eaten the bundle of hay.

'Now may God pardon thee; now I also pardon thee. Depart, and God be with thee.'

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