The Motif of the Bridge Fight of the Hero with the Dragons in the Romanian Fantastic Tales Cover Image
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Motivul luptei eroului cu zmeii pe pod în basmele fantastice româneşti
The Motif of the Bridge Fight of the Hero with the Dragons in the Romanian Fantastic Tales

Author(s): Rafał Rykowski
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Universitatea »1 Decembrie 1918« Alba Iulia
Keywords: folclore; mithology; AT 300; Romanians; Slaves

Summary/Abstract: In the Romanian folk tales we can see a lot of motifs in common with those from well-known Slavic folk tales. These motifs are not only the stories themselves, but also the characters’ features that can be compared to the Slavic ones. These motifs that are to be found both in the Romanian tales and in the Slavic ones are of different types: the role of the characters, their characteristics, their names, consequently imaginary, literary and linguistic aspects of folklore-based tales. An interesting motif is the one of the fight between the hero and a dragon on a bridge. This motif, which is most often found in the Eastern-Slavic territories, but also among Baltic and Turkic peoples of the former Soviet Union, is almost inexistent in Western European tales, as well as in Eastern Asia. Nevertheless it is present in some other Romanian tales, mainly in the well-known Greuceanu, where it appears next to the presence of the character the Earth Blacksmith (Faurul pământului), which is typical also for the Eastern-Slavic tales. The tale Greuceanu is very close to the tale-pattern known especially in post-Soviet area. The motif is a part of a larger sequence of motifs, with the fight on a bridge with three dragons (zmey, zmeu), a run from the wives of the dragons and the fight with their mother, with the help of a blacksmith. This type of tale in the Aarne-Thompson System belongs the type AT 300, The dragon slayer, and the origin of the fight on bridge is in the East. We can see not only the same events, but, which is most important, a very close similarity of situations, their descriptions, and the formulas, uttered by the personages – in short, the so called commonplaces (loci communes), or median formulas (N. Roşianu). In addition, the motif of fight on bridge is connected with the personage of zmeu, a kind of monster similar to dragon, which, either in Greuceanu and in the Indoeuropean mythology, has disturbed the universal harmony, by stealing some important things, like the Sun and the Moon in the tale Greuceanu. This motif is typical to Romanian folk beliefs, where the personage of vîrcolac wants to eat the Moon. Therefore, the hero of the tale becomes a kind of cultural hero, who recovers the stolen items. Also, the presence of the blacksmith, an artisan who makes the weapon for the hero of the tale, reminds us of the Divine Artisans from the Indoeuropean mythologies, such as Hephaestus and Tvastar, who helped the main god in defeating the monster. The place of the battle, a bridge, is a very important symbol, showing us a place of passage and a border between the worlds, in this case presumably the border between our world and the underground, or another world, which is similar for either the tales and the folk mythologies of Romanians and Eastern Slavs.

  • Issue Year: 12/2011
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 231-240
  • Page Count: 9
  • Language: Romanian