Monday, March 23, 2015

The Three Sisters: A Greek Cinderella Tale

The following tale is one of the hundreds that appear in Cinderella Tales From Around the World. It is a short and much less sweet Cinderella tale from Greece. Greek Cinderellas often have mothers murdered by Cinderella's sisters. I've been seeing this mentioned in articles around the web and thought I would share an example of it here. The tale is also like a majority of Cinderella tales where she meets the prince at church instead of at a ball.

The Three Sisters

THERE were three girls sitting spinning with their mother, and they agreed that whosesoever thread broke first they should kill and eat. Their mother's thread broke, but they said, “Let us spare her for having carried us in her womb,” and went on spinning.

When the mother's thread broke a second time, they said, “Let us spare her for having suckled us from her breast.” But when the mother's thread broke a third time, she had to be killed. The two eldest killed her, cut her up, cooked her, and eat well of the flesh, but the youngest would not join them, and when they had finished she collected the bones and put them in a large earthenware jar. Every day for forty days she incensed them.

After forty days she went to the jar and found within it three dresses (one, the plain with its flowers; another, the sea with its fish; and the third, the heaven with its stars), and a pair of beautiful slippers and a splendid horse.

On Sunday she put on the first dress and went to church. There the king's son saw her and fell in love with her, but she ran away before he could catch her and speak to her.

So it was the next Sunday, when wearing the second dress she came to church again.

On the third Sunday she put on the third dress. As she was returning from church she stopped to let her horse drink, and one slipper fell into the drinking-trough. The prince, who was following her, stopped his horse too, and it was frightened at the slipper, and would not drink. So he saw the slipper and knew to whom it belonged, and went round to all the houses in the town trying to fit it.

The eldest sister had put the youngest under a basket, and on this the prince sat down to try the slipper on. It would not fit them, and he asked them if they had no other sister. They said, “No,” but the youngest took a pin from her hair and pricked him with it, and so he lifted up the basket to see what was under it.

When it was lifted, the eldest sister said, “She is a poor outcast, our servant, whom we put there that you might not see her.” But the slipper fitted her, and the prince recognised her, and they were married.

Source: Paton, W. R. “Folktales from the Ægean (Continued).” Folklore. Vol. 12, No. 2 (Jun. 1901). pp. 197-208. (From Cassabi.)

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