Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Trimmatos; or, The Ogre with Three Eyes

Bluebeard Tales From Around the World

"The Trimmatos; or, The Ogre with Three Eyes" is a runner-up for most unusual Bluebeard story in Bluebeard Tales From Around the World. The tale is from Greece, and as you can guess from the title, the Bluebeard character is supernatural. That in itself is not that unusual. Many of the Bluebeard tales from Greece and Italy offer supernatural Bluebeard characters. In general, when you move further north in Europe, the Bluebeards begin to be real men, not magical creatures, although they may own magical objects such as the key, the egg, etc. I translated this tale from Recueil de Contes Populaires Grecs by Emile Legrand in my desire to offer more unusual Bluebeards not usually found in English language collections.

The general plotting of this tale is fairly standard to the southern European variants, but it is more detailed.  The tale begins:

HERE is the beginning of the tale and good evening to the company.

There once was an old woodcutter who had three daughters. He also had three beasts of burden with which he transported the wood to raise his children. However, Madam, he could not raise them comfortably and he was distressed that he had nothing with which to buy a little something for his daughters.

One day, however, he managed to acquire a scarf. The daughters were filled with joy upon seeing the scarf and the oldest wanted to use it to make herself a headdress.

One day when she was wearing the headdress, she sat by the window for they had a small entresol whose window looked out onto the street.

Now, Madam, there passed by a merchant who saw her and who she liked very much. Finally, Madam, he asked the neighbors if she was single or married.

“She is single,” they told him.

And so he asked them to negotiate his marriage. “If she has nothing,” he said, “no matter, I will marry her without a dowry just as she comes.”

Therefore, Madam, the girl’s parents declared themselves satisfied and they gave her to him to wife.

When the girl was with her husband, to show his pleasure in her, he gave her a hundred and one keys and said, “With a hundred of these keys you have the power to open. But this hundred and first key will not work because the room is empty.” After a long pause he said, “Instead of keeping this unnecessary key, give it to me.” Then he reclaimed it.

Her curiosity eventually overwhelms her so she takes the key and opens the room. This is very abbreviated but from a window in the room she watches her husband take on his true shape and eat a corpse--not one that he has killed to the best of our knowledge, just one freshly buried. She is sickened by the sight and takes to her bed in misery and fear. He suspects her snooping and tests her by taking on the shape of her family members to see if she will reveal his secret. She keeps mum until he finally takes on the form of her beloved nurse. She reveals his secret then and he vows to kill her.

She runs away and begs for help from people on the street, eventually ending up at a king's castle. Eventually she marries the prince and is delivered from her horrible, bloody husband. It is a great story and quite entertaining, three eyed ogre and all. The heroine is spunkier than many in the ATU 312 tales and is primarily responsible for her own rescue, so this one is more appealing to modern sensibilities, too.

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