Monday, September 22, 2014

Beauty and the Beast in Greece: Part II

Continuing with interesting Greek versions of Beauty and the Beast, as found in Heidi Anne Heiner's/Surlalune's Beauty and the Beast Tales from Around the World:

I like "The Sleeping Prince" because it's sort of a gender-reversed Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful Princess determines she will watch at the sleeping Prince's side for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours, without falling asleep herself, in order to wake him. But when the Prince awakens, he finds a slave girl who claims she is the one who woke him, and becomes the False Bride. The False Bride makes the True Bride into a goose girl, who requests a rope to hang herself with, but tells her story to the rope and is overheard and rescued.

In "The Sugar Man," a hopeful bride creates a man out of sugar and brings him to life by praying. Heiner notes that while other tales feature objects being brought to life, using sugar is unique. Maybe a play on the fact that lovers will call each other sweet, or give each other nicknames such as "sugar" or "honey?"
The Gingerbread Man from Shrek

Once the daughter has married her sugar creation, another Princess falls in love with the man upon hearing of him, arranges for him to be kidnapped, and marries him. The True Bride hunts him down, and as in, many other BATB stories, trades valuables to the Princess in return for staying one night with the King. The Queen drugs him so he can't hear what the True Bride says, but when a friend of the King's tells him the truth, he avoids the potion on the last day. Yet I don't know that I find this King worth all the trouble-he didn't seem to have any problem marrying a second wife so quickly (in other similar tales, the wife's disobeying of a command separates the lovers, and usually some cruel witch or enchantress is behind it; he may later be engaged to another woman but not married. It's sometimes implied that he was under a spell/had forgotten about his past).

Last but not least, "The Enchanted Head"-after providing money for an old woman and her two daughters, a disembodied head demands that the old woman go to the Sultan and ask for his daughter in marriage (not the old woman's daughters, as I initially expected). When the Sultan sees the strange suitor, he is disgusted, but his daughter "placed her head gently on his arm. 'You have given your word, my father, and you cannot break it...Yes, I will marry him. He has a beautiful head, and I love him already.' "
Omar Rayyan

After they are married, the bride, and only the bride can see his true form-the rest of his body; an unusual feature, since usually the transformation is hidden from the world at first but later he is completely himself.

Definitely some strange, weird things in these versions. What did you like/not like about the stories from this post and Part I?

As usual, these stories are summarized and a lot has been left out; to get the whole flavor and pick up on many of the other elements of the story, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book yourself. Another great feature is that Heidi has included an ATU index with descriptions of the different tale types, and the tales in the book that correspond; very helpful when trying to narrow down which of the 188 stories to read!

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