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Tales Told By Bulls And Wolves

Southern Europe



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La Cenorientola








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This volume, Tales Told By Bulls And Wolves covers stories originating in what is now Italy.

Italian literature arguably began after the founding of Rome in 753 BC. Latin literature was, and still is, highly influential in the world, with numerous writers, poets, philosophers, and historians, such as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid and Livy.

Much later, following in the footsteps of Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Italian Renaissance authors produced a number of important works such as Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, who wrote The Facetious Nights of Straparola (1550–1555) and the Pentamerone (1634) respectively, printed some of the first known versions of fairy tales in Europe, examples of which appear in this collection.

Later still the Italian Romantic movement coincided with the Risorgimento, the patriotic movement that brought Italy political unity and freedom from foreign domination.

Italian writers embraced Romanticism in the early 19th century. The time of Italy’s rebirth was heralded by the poets Vittorio Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, and Giacomo Leopardi. The works by Alessandro Manzoni, the leading Italian Romantic, are a symbol of the Italian political struggle.


Pomo And The Goblin Horse

There was in an Italian village a man named Pomo, who was so lazy that he did not like to work, so he said, “I’ll become a doctor.”
So, he went into other districts where no one knew him, and said that he could heal people. But instead he only made them die all the more. At last he died too.
One evening soon after his death, his relations were sitting quietly in their house when they heard a great noise, and looking out, saw all the air full of crows. This went on for several evenings. The house was surrounded by these birds, which flew here and there cawing loudly, and then vanished.
At last one evening there were no crows, but the family suddenly heard a great clattering of hoofs in the street. They went to the window and looked out and saw a terrible black horse with a man riding on him. The horse came to the doorsteps, put his nose down to the ground, and stood there some time, while the man looked imploringly at the terrified people, but did not speak.
The next evening the horse came again. This time he stood on the threshold, with his nose against the door, but the man did not speak. In the morning the people went to tell the parroco and beg him to save them from the devil, for they were sure the black horse could be no other. The parroco lived some way off, but he said, “If the horse comes tonight, call me at once, and I will see if I can help you.”
That night as soon as the hoofs were heard someone ran off to the parroco, and the rest huddled into the kitchen so that they might not see the dreadful sight.
But the horse came upstairs, and stood there close by the fire with his nose on the ground and the man hid his face on the horse.
As soon as they heard him coming up the people were so frightened that they jumped out of window, all but one very old woman who feared the fall more than the horse.
Just then the priest came and asked the man, in the name of God, what he wanted. The man answered, “I want mass said for me, that I may have rest in the lowest part of hell.”
“Well,” said the priest, “I will say it tomorrow.”
“You must say it at midnight, with your back to the altar,” answered the man, “and if you make a single mistake you will have to go to hell along with me.”
“I’ll do it for you,” said the priest, for he was a brave man, and with that the horse and man went away. But when they got among the chestnut trees there was a great noise, and flames of fire, and so the horse and rider vanished. Well, the next day the parroco tried to get someone to serve the mass, but he had great difficulty, as everyone was afraid of making a mistake and getting carried off to hell. but at last he persuaded a priest to help him, and towards midnight the two went to the church.
The horse and rider stood in the entrance of the west door, and the two priests read mass, with their backs to the altar. They got through without mistake and the Devil and the condemned soul disappeared and were never seen again, but the priest who had served the mass was taken up stiff and dumb with terror, and it was many weeks before he could speak again. The parroco was less affected, but there was a strange glitter in his eyes for some days, and it was long before he could trust himself to talk of that night.

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