Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 9, 1898.djvu/154
130 The Wooing of Penelope.
All this, I admit, does not quite coincide with the device of Penelope, but I think it specially important to note the significant connection of the provision of a special wedding dress with tales of the Abhorred Marriage type, which enters largely into the Homeric Saga. At any rate it gives us, I think, a hint as to the direction in which a solution of this puzzle may be found.
Another important cycle of tales connected with the Wooing of Penelope is that which may be called. The Absent Husband and the Faithful Wife. We find a good instance of this in Thorpe's tale of the King of Spain and his Queen, where the test is a shirt of snowy whiteness which she gives her husband, telling him that it would turn black when she was dead.^
The absence of a Chastity Test of the Saga of the Wooing has been already noticed, and it is the more curious, because such an incident was well known in Greek folk-traditions. Thus, Pausanias tells us that the priestesses of Mother Earth at Crathis were tested by a draught of bull's blood,^ and in a second but doubtful passage he mentions a similar ordeal by making girls dive into the sea.^ With this we may compare the ordeal at Lanuvium, where girls were taken into a sacred grove, and if the holy serpent accepted food from their hands their chastity was established.^ In European folklore the test is often a cup which the unfaithful lover spills when he tries to drink it, or a shirt which never needs mending as long as the person who wears it remains true. In oriental folk-
' Yuletide Stories, pp. 452, seqq. Thorpe notes that his tale agrees in sub- stance with the ballad of " Graf von Rom," in Uhland. ii.. 784, and with the Flemish story of " Ritter Alexander aus Metz und Seiner P>au Florcntina " ; see Grimm, Deutsche Sageii, No. 531.
- vii. 25, 13, with Frazcr's note. Pausanias, vol. iv., p. 175.
' X. 19, 2.
- Aelian, De Nat. An., xi., 16 ; Propertius, Eleg., iv., 8.
- Clouston, Book of Sindibad, pp. 318, seqq.