Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/226

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196 King Midas and his Asss Ears.

and noticed that he had two tusks like those of a wild boar. The king himself was not aware that he had these tusks, and was astounded when he learnt the fact. The ambas- sador thus gained the confidence of the simple-minded king, and induced him to shorten the length of his drum, assuring him that if trenches were dug in his city treasure would be found, and that the king's tusks would be removed. He also succeeded in poisoning the water of the town by inducing the king to substitute wide for narrow-mouthed jars throughout his dominions. The result was that the king lost his power, his city, which had the power of flying in the air, could no longer do so, the water was polluted, and the country fell into the hands of the Burmese.^^

Comparing these versions, we may reasonably conclude that the deformity of the prince consists in the growth of' ears or horns, not in a misshapen foot, as in the tale from Gilgit. It seems clear, also, that in the most primitive forms of the story the tree springs from the corpse or' corpses of the murdered barber and his comrades ; that it is the spirits of them, or the spirit of one of them, which animate the tree and speak through its wood when made into a drum or flute ; or, rather, that the tree itself is the spirit of the murdered men, or a transformation of them. This theme constantly appears in folklore. Thus the nymph Syrinx, when pursued by Pan, flies into the river Ladon, and at her own request is turned into a reed, out of which Pan makes a pipe.^^ This grave-tree appears in Homer and elsewhere as the abode of the spirits of the dead which lie beneath it.^* Many instances from savage beliefs to illustrate the principle that the souls of the dead

^^J. G. Scott, J. P. Hardiman, Gazetteer of Upper Burma, 1900, vol. ii., part i., pp. 402 et seq. A different version, without the incident of the tusks, is given by Capt. T. H. Lewin, T^e Hill Tracts of Chittagong etc., 1869, pp. 53 et seq.

^ Ovid, Metamorphoses, i. , 690.

^ Iliad, vi., 419; cf. Folk-Lore, vol. xix., p. 66.