Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/476

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The Legend of Merlin.

he replies that in the former case the bride would die soon, and that the buyer of shoes which are to last for seven years would not complete seven days.[1]

I pass over other incidents which do not touch our question. It is only important to notice the strange behaviour of the demon and the dialogue which follows between him and the king. This later portion has been influenced afterwards by other legends of such witty dialogues and the putting of riddles to Solomon, or by Solomon to other reputed clever people, and is the ultimate source of the whole cycle of Solomon and Morolf, or Saturn and Marculph.[2] The legend related by Josephus[3] of the riddles put by Solomon and King Hiram through Abdemon may have contributed to introduce a demon into the legend. The Queen of Sheba, who is the hero of other witty contests with King Solomon, according to widely spread Oriental legends, partakes also of the character of a demon or a genie. She has the feet of a demon, and is thus half human and half demoniacal, and she is also identified later on with the prophesying Sibylla. This form is then transplanted into the next development of the legend in Europe, of which we have the Romance of Solomon and Morolf in German and the still more important Slavonic version of Solomon and Kitovras, which Vesselofsky in his exhaustive study[4] of this cycle of legends has proved to be a corruption from Kentauros, the half-human half-animal creature of Greek mythology. The contest then is between Solomon and a being which in consequence of the Christian colouring could no longer be a heathen Kentauros, but follows the lines of the Sirach version, and becomes a child in which the demoniacal half is represented by the father and not by the actual semi-human form.

  1. Talmud; Treat. Gitten, f. 68.
  2. Gaster, Lit. pop., p. 79, ff.
  3. Josephus, Antiq., viii., 53.
  4. A. N. Vesselofsky, O Solomone i Kitovras (St. Petersburg, 1872).