Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/215

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King Midas a?id his Asss Ears. 185

In its original form it is still current in Greece.^ Passing westward, we find it in various forms among the Celts. In one version given by Jeofifry Keating,^ Labradh Loingseach, king of Ireland, had ears like those of a horse. To conceal the fact the king used to slay every barber who cut his hair. At last it became necessary to select by lot the person who was forced to undertake this dangerous duty. The lot fell upon a youth, the son of a poor widow, who appealed to the king for mercy. He promised to spare the boy's life on condition that he swore not to reveal any- thing he might see. But " secresy, it seems, was ever a burden," and the youth through the load of the secret fell sick. His mother consulted a famous Druid, who advised the boy to go to a neighbouring wood, and, when he came to the meeting place of four highways, a place where evil influences can be dispersed,^*' he was to turn to the right and whisper the secret into the first tree he met. He did this at a willow tree, and found immediate relief After this the harp of Craftine, the king's musician, was broken, and he cut a branch of the tree wherewith to repair it. Then the harp refused to give any tune other than De Chluais chapail ar Labradh Loingseach, which being inter- preted means " Labradh Loingseach has the ears of a horse." The king, observing this miracle, regarded it as the work of the gods offended at his cruelty in slaying so many innocent young men. " He repented of the barbarity he had used, and openly exposed his long ears all his life afterwards."

^Schmidt, Griechische Mdrchen, Sagen, und Volkslieder, pp. 70 ef seq., 22i^et seq., quoted by Frazer, Pausanias, vol. ii., p. 74, who gives a Servian parallel from Karadschitsch, Volkstndrchen der Serben, No. 39, pp. 225 etseq., which has been translated by Naake, Slavonic Fairy Tales, p. 61.

' The General History of Ireland, translated by Dermo'd O'Connor, 1841, vol. i., pp. 203 et seq. ; cf. Folk- Lore Record, vol. iv., p. 33 note; and, for a variant, Notes and Queries, 7th Series, vol. v., p. 502.

^•^ Westermarck, The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, vol. ii., p. 256 note.