The Old Woman at Ferry Cover Image

Az öregasszony a révnél
The Old Woman at Ferry

Author(s): Anna Judit Tóth
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Studies of Literature, Philology
Published by: Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem
Keywords: literary genres in the Antiquity; fairy tale; hero myths

Summary/Abstract: We can find an equivalent to almost all of our modern literary genres in the Antiquity. One of the rare exceptions is the fairy tale. We can conjecture it to have existed in Rome but find no traces of it in Greece. For the Greek children the role of the fairy tale was played by the hero myths. These stories were told by mothers, nurses, and other old women of the household – this profane way was crucial for the transmission of myths between the generations. As a result, myths absorb motifs characteristic of folk tales. One of these is the person of the supernatural helper, who, disguised as an old woman, meets the hero at a ferry. Jason meets Hera, Phaon meets Aphrodite in such circumstances. The appeareance of Demeter as an old woman in Eleusis can be interpreted in the context of the rites of the mysteries but in the case of Phaon and Jason, the only role of the motif is to carry on the narrative in a way in which this happened in the traditional fairy tale as well.

  • Issue Year: III/2011
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 27-33
  • Page Count: 7
  • Language: Hungarian