Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/223

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


King Midas and his Asss Ears. 193

punishment for the sins of their rulers and people are common."

Sir H. Layard gives a Persian version which he heard from a man of Shuster. This tells of King Shapur or Sapor, who ascended the throne 240 B.C., and was the conqueror of the Roman Emperor Valerian and the subject of many legends. He is said to have had horns on his head, and his barber whispers the secret into a well. Soon after, a shepherd, to make a pipe, cuts a reed which grows at the edge of the well. The first time the pipe is played it utters the words, — " Shapur has horns," The king, learning that the secret has been betrayed, questions the barber, and, when he hears his explanation, graciously pardons him.^^

I have been as yet unable to trace this much-travelled tale further east than India, where we find at least four versions, one from the extreme north, two from the central region, and one from the south.

From Gilgit, on the northern frontier, comes the tale of " The Foot of Malik the Ra of Gilgit." One of his feet was shaped like that of an ass. No one, except a single old servant, knew of this. He kept the secret for a while, but, to quote the native narrator, " his belly began to swell day by day, owing to his keeping the knowledge to himself" So he goes to a mountain, digs a hole just large enough to hold his head, "and began to cry as loud as possible, in order to let the secret from his belly, that one of the feet of Malik was like the hoof of an ass. He continued repeating the words till he felt quite cured,

^ Many parallels to the story of the destruction of Sodom are collected in Encyclopaedia Bibiica, vol. iv., p. 4670. Similar tales are told of the cities of Valabhi in Gujarat and Mandoi in Cutch (Bombay Gazetteer, vol. i., part i., p. 94; vol. v., p. 239; A. K. Forbes, Ras-Mdla, p. 14). Cf. The [ataka, Cambridge translation, vol. iv., p. 244; Crooke, Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, vol. i., pp. 21"] ei seq.

27 Sir H. Layard, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia, vol. ii., pp. 264 et seq.

N