I., II., III., and IV., Servian II., III., and IV., Bulgarian, Esthonian II., Finnish, Rumanian I., Irish I., II, and III., Breton I., Danish III, Norwegian II., Simrock X., Harz I, Jack the Giant Killer, and Old Wives' Tale. All but three of them are folk-tales, a fact that considerably simplifies the discussion.
According to the apocryphal story, Tobit buries by night the dead who lie in the street. He is thrown into prison, and later becomes blind and poverty-stricken. He sends his son Tobias to his brother Gabael for the return of a loan. The youth is accompanied by the angel Raphael in disguise, who calls himself Azarias. On the journey Tobias catches a fish and preserves the heart, liver, and gall at the bidding of his companion. When they arrive at their journey's end, the angel, as gobetween, asks Gabael's daughter Sara in wedlock for Tobias, though seven men have died while consummating their marriage with her. By burning the heart and liver of the fish at the command of the angel, and by prayer, Tobias escapes; for the demon Asmodeus is driven out of the maiden and bound by Raphael. With his bride and companion Tobias goes home, where he cures Tobit's blindness by means of the gall of the fish. After being offered half of the wealth that he has brought the family, Raphael explains his identity and disappears.
This variant is peculiar in that the father does the good action, while the son is chiefly rewarded. Indeed, it is the son whose life is saved from the possessed woman whom he marries. Moreover, the grateful dead is replaced by an angel, who indeed commends Tobit for his good deed, but is certainly a substitute for the ghost. Obviously Tobit with such peculiarities as these cannot be regarded as the general source of the widespread folk-tale. At the same time we must not forget that it has been, perhaps, the best-loved story in the
- Tobit, Danish III. (Andersen's tale), and Peele's Old Wives' Tale.