Italian Popular Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Three Brothers, The

The following nonsense story from Venice (Bernoni, Punt. I. p. 18) will give a good idea of a class that is not very well represented in Italy. It is called:


ONCE upon a time there were three brothers: two had no clothes and one no shirt. The weather was very bad and they make up their minds to go shooting. So they took down three guns,--two were broken and one had no barrel,--and walked and walked until they came at last to a meadow, where they saw a hare. They began to fire at it, but could not catch it. "What shall we do?" said one of them. They remembered that near by a godmother of theirs lived; so they went and knocked at her door and asked her to lend them a pot to cook the hare they had not caught. The godmother was not at home, but nevertheless she answered: "My children, go in the kitchen and there you will find three pots, two broken and one with no bottom; take whichever you wish." "Thanks, Godmother!" They went into the kitchen and chose the one without a bottom and put the hare in it to cook. While the hare was cooking, one said: "Let us ask our godmother whether she has anything in her garden." So they asked her and she said: "Yes, yes, my children, I have three walnut-trees; two are dead and one has never borne any nuts; knock off as many as you wish." One went and shook the tree that had never borne nuts, and a little nut fell on his hat and broke his heel. Thereupon they picked up the nuts and went to get the hare, which meanwhile was cooked, and said: "What shall we do with so much stuff?" So they went to a village where there were many ill, and they put up a notice in the street that whoever wished might, at such and such a place, get broth given him in charity. Every one went to get some, and they took it in the salad-basket, and it was given to them with a skimmer. One who did not belong to the village, drank so much of this broth that he was at the point of death. Then they sent for three physicians: one was blind, one deaf, and one dumb. The blind man went in and said: "Let me look at your tongue." The deaf man asked: "How are you?" The dumb said: "Give me some paper, pen and ink." They gave them to him and he said:

"Go to the apothecary,     
For he knows the business;     
Buy two cents' worth of I know not what,     
Put it wherever you wish.     
He will get well I know not when,     
I will leave and commend him to you." [1]


 [1] There are two versions of this story in Pitrè, No. 139, and notes. They differ but little from the one we have translated. An Istrian version is in Ive, Fiabe pop. rovignesi, 1878, No. 4, "I tri fardai" and a Corsican one in Ortoli, p. 278.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Three Brothers, The
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 1965: The Disabled Comrades

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