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Vineyard I Was and Vineyard I Am

We now turn to some stories taken from a collection more famous in some respects than those previously mentioned, The Seven Wise Masters, which enjoyed during the Middle Ages a popularity second only to that of the Bible. Of this collection there are several Italian translations reaching back to the fourteenth century. [1] From one of these, or possibly from oral tradition, the stories about to be mentioned passed into the popular tales of Italy. The first story we shall cite is interesting because popular tradition has connected it with Pier delle Vigne, the famous chancellor of the Emperor Frederick the Second. The Venetian version (Bernoni, Trad. pop. venez. Punt. I. p. 11) is in substance as follows:


A KING, averse to marriage, commanded his steward to remain single. The latter, however, one day saw a beautiful girl named Vigna, and married her secretly. Although he kept her closely confined in her chamber, the king became suspicious and sent the steward off on an embassy. After his departure the king entered the apartment occupied by him, and saw his officer's wife sleeping. He did not disturb her, but, in leaving the room, dropped one of his gloves accidentally on the bed. When the husband returned he found it, but kept a discreet silence, ceasing, however, all demonstrations of affection, believing his wife had been faithless. The king, anxious to see again the beautiful woman, made a feast and ordered the steward to bring his wife. He denied in vain that he had one, but brought her at last, and while every one else was talking gayly at the feast she was silent. The king observed it and asked her the cause of her silence; and she answered with a pun on her name: "Vineyard I was and Vineyard I am, I was loved and no longer am: I know not for what reason the Vineyard has lost its season." Her husband, who heard this, replied: "Vineyard thou wast and Vineyard thou art, loved thou wast and no longer art: the Vineyard has lost its season for the lion's claw." The king, who understood what he meant, answered: "I entered the Vineyard, I touched the leaves, but I swear by my crown that I have not tasted the fruit." Then the steward understood that his wife was innocent, and the two made peace and always after lived happy and contented. [2]

*  *  *  *  *

               This story is found only in the Greek and Hebrew versions of The Seven Wise Masters, and in the Arabic Seven Viziers. It did not pass into any of the Occidental versions, although it was known to Boccaccio, who based on it the fifth novel of the first day of the Decameron. Either, then, the story is a late adaptation of the Oriental tale, which is unlikely, or it comes from some now lost, but once popular Italian version of the Oriental form of The Seven Wise Masters. [3]


[1] See Note 1 of this chapter. {There are three Italian translations of the Pantschatantra, all of the XVI. century. Two, Discorsi degli Animali, by Angelo Firenzuola, 1548, and La Filosofia Morale, by Doni, 1552, represent the Hebrew translation by Rabbi Joel (1250), from which they are derived through the Directorium humanae vitae of Johannes de Capua (1263-78); the third, Del Governo de' Regni, by G. Nuti, 1583, is from the Greek version of Simeon Seth (1080). A full account of the various translations of the Pantschatantra may be found in Max Müller's Chips, Vol. IV. p. 165, "The Migration of Fables." See also Benfey, Pant. I. pp. 1-19, Buddhist Birth Stories; or, Jataka Tales, By V. Fausböll and T. W. Rhys Davids, Boston, 1880, p. xciii., and Landau, Die Quellen des Decamerone, mentioned in the following note.

               The Seven Wise Masters was also translated into Italian at an early date. One version, Il Libro dei Sette Savj di Roma, Pisa, 1864, edited by Prof. A. D'Ancona, is a XIII. century translation from a French prose version (Cod. 7974, Bib. nat.); another, of the same date, Storia d' una crudele Matrigna, Bologna, 1862, is from an uncertain source, from which is probably derived a third version, Il Libro dei Sette Savi di Roma tratto da un codice del secolo XIV. per cura di Antonio Cappelli, Bologna, 1865. The MS. from which the version edited by Della Lucia in 1832 (reprinted at Bologna, 1862) was taken has been recently discovered and printed in Operette inedite o rare, Libreria Dante, Florence, 1883, No. 3. A fourth version of the end of the XIII. or the beginning of the XIV. century is still inedited, it is mentioned by D'Ancona in the Libro dei Sette Savj, p. xxviii., and its contents given. The latest and most curious version is I Compassionevoli Avvenimenti di Erasto, a work of the XVI. century (first edition, Venice, 1542) which contains four stories found in no other version of the Seven Wise Masters. The popularity of this version, the source of which is unknown, was great. See D'Ancona, opcit., pp. xxxi.-xxxiv.

               The Disciplina Clericalis was not known, apparently, in Italy as a collection, but the separate stories were known as early as Boccaccio, who borrowed the outlines of three of his stories from it (VII. 4; VIII. 10: X. 8). Three of the stories of the Disc. Cler. are also found in the Ital. trans. of Frate Jacopo da Cessole's book on Chess (Volgarizzamento del libro de' Costumi e degli offizii de' nobili sopra il giuoco degli Scachi, Milan, 1829) and reprinted in Libro di Novelle Antiche, Bologna, 1868, Novelle III., IV., and VI. This translation is of the XII. century. Other stories from the Disc. Cler. are found in the Cento nov. ant., Gualt., LIII., XXXI., LXVI., Borg., LXXIV. (Cent. nov., Biagi, pp. 226, 51, 58); and in Cintio, Gli Ecatommiti, I, 3; VII. 6.}

[2] In the original, what the husband, wife, and king, say, is in verse, as follows:--

"Vigna era e Vigna son,  
     Amata era e più non son;     
E non so per qual cagion,  
     Che la Vigna à perso la so stagion."

"Vigna eri e Vigna sei,  
     Amata eri e più non sei:     
Per la branca del leon  
     La Vigna à perso la so stagion."

"Ne la Vigna io son intrato,  
     Di quei pampani n' ò tocato;     
Ma lo guiro per la corona che porto in capo,  
     Che de quel fruto no ghe n' ò gustato."

               This story is also found in Pitrè, No. 76, "Lu Bracceri di manu manca" ("The Usher on the Left Hand," i. e., of the king, who also had one on his right hand); Pomiglianesi, No. 6, "Villa;" and, in the shape of a poetical dialogue, in Vigo, Raccolta amplissima di Canti popolari siciliani. Secunda ediz. Catania, 1870-1874, No. 5145.

               The story is told of Pier delle Vigne by Jacopo d'Aqui (XIII. cent.) in his Chronicon imaginis mundi, and of the Marchese di Pescara by Brantôme, Vie des Dames galantes. These versions will be found with copious references in Pitrè and Imbriani as cited above: see also, Cantilene e Ballate, Strambotti e Madrigali nei Secoli XIII. e XIV., A cura di Giosuè Carducci, Pisa, 1871, p. 26. The story is discussed in an exhaustive manner by S. Prato in the Romania, vol. XII. p. 535; XIV. p. 132, "L' Orma del Leone."

[3] For the Oriental versions see Essai sur les Fables indiennes, par A. Loiseleur Deslongchamps, Paris, 1838, p. 96; Das Buch von den sieben weisen Meistern, aus dem Hebräischen und Griechischen zum ersten Male übersetzt von H. Sengelmann, Halle, 1842, p. 40 (Mischle Sandabâr), p. 87 (Syntipas), Tausend und Eine Nacht, Deutsch von Max Habicht, Von der Hagen und Schall, Breslau, 1836, vol. XV. p. 112 (Arabic); Li Romans des Sept Sages, nach der Pariser Handschrift herausgegeben von H. A. Keller, Tübingen, 1836, p. cxxxviii.; Dyocletianus Leben, von Hans von Bühel, herausgegeben von A. Keller, Quedlinburg und Leipzig, 1841, p. 45. All students of this subject are acquainted with Domenico Comparetti's masterly essay Ricerche intorno al Libro di Sindibâd, Milan, 1869, which has recently been made accessible to English readers in a version published by the English Folk-Lore Society in 1882. The Persian and Arabic texts may be consulted in an English translation, reprinted with valuable introduction and notes in the following work: The Book of Sindibad; or, The Story of the King, his Son, the Damsel, and the Seven Vazirs, From the Persian and Arabic, with Introduction, Notes, and an Appendix, by W. A. Clouston. Privately printed, 1884 [Glasgow], pp. xvii.-lvi.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Vineyard I Was and Vineyard I Am
Tale Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas
Book Title: Italian Popular Tales
Book Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas Frederick
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin and Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1885
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 891B*: The King's Glove

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