Italian Popular Tales | Annotated Tale

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Cock, The

A curious variant of the above story is found in the same collection (p. 69) under the title:


ONCE upon a time there was a cock, and this cock flew here and flew there, and flew on an arbor, and there he found a letter. He opened the letter and saw: "Cock, steward,"----and that he was invited to Rome by the Pope.

               The cock started on his journey, and after a time met the hen: "Where are you going, Friend Cock?" said the hen. "I flew," said he, "upon an arbor and found a letter, and this letter said that I was invited to Rome by the Pope." "Just see, friend," said the hen, "whether I am there too." "Wait a bit." Then he turned the letter, and saw written there: "Cock, steward; Hen, stewardess." "Come, friend, for you are there too." "Very well!"

               Then the two started off, and soon met the goose, who said: "Where are you going, Friend Cock and Friend Hen?" "I flew," said the cock, "upon an arbor, and I found a letter, and this letter said that we were invited to Rome by the Pope." "Just look, friend, whether I am there too." Then the cock opened the letter, read it, and saw that there was written: "Cock, steward; Hen, stewardess; Goose, abbess." "Come, come, friend; you are there too." So they took her along, and all three went their way.

                [After a time they found the duck, and the cock saw written in the letter: "Cock, steward; Hen, stewardess; Goose, abbess; Duck, countess." They next met a little bird, and found he was down in the letter as "little man-servant." Finally they came across the wood-louse, whom they found mentioned in the letter as "maid-servant." On their journey they came to a forest, and saw a wolf at a distance. The cock, hen, goose, and duck plucked out their feathers and built houses to shelter themselves from the wolf. The poor bug, that had no feathers, dug a hole in the ground and crept into it. The wolf came, and as in the last story, blew down the four houses and devoured their occupants. Then he tried to get at the bug in the same way; but blew so hard that he burst, and out came the cock, hen, goose, and duck, safe and sound, and began to make a great noise. The bug heard it and came out of her hole, and after they had rejoiced together, they separated and each returned home and thought no more of going to Rome to the Pope.]

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               There is a version from the Marches (Gianandrea, p. 21), called, "The Marriage of Thirteen." The animals are the same as in the last story. On their journey they meet the wolf, who accompanies them, although his name is not in the letter. After a time the wolf becomes hungry, and exclaims: "I am hungry." The cock answers: "I have nothing to give you." "Very well; then I will eat you;" and he swallows him whole. And so he devours one after the other, until the bird only remains. The bird flies from tree to tree and bush to bush, and around the wolf's head, until he drives him wild with anger. At last along comes a woman with a basket on her head, carrying food to the reapers. The bird says to the wolf that if he will spare his life he will get him something to eat from the basket. The wolf promises, and the bird alights near the woman, who tries to catch him; the bird flies on a little way, and the woman puts down her basket and runs after him. Meanwhile the wolf draws near the basket and begins eating its contents. When the woman sees that, she cries: "Help!" and the reapers run up with sticks and scythes, and kill the wolf, and the animals that he had devoured all came out of his stomach, safe and sound. [1]

               There are two Sicilian versions of the story of "The Cock." One (Pitrè, No. 279), "The Wolf and the Finch," opens like the Venetian. The animals are: Cock, king; Hen, queen; Viper, chambermaid; Wolf, Pope; and Finch, keeper of the castle. The wolf then proceeds to confess the others, and eats them in turn until he comes to the finch, which plays a joke on him and flies away. The conclusion of the story is disfigured, nothing being said of the wolf's punishment or the recovery of the other animals.

               The other Sicilian version is in Gonzenbach (No. 66). We give it, however, for completeness and because it recalls a familiar story in Grimm. [2] It is entitled: [The Cock That Wished to Become Pope]


[1] A Sicilian version is in Pitrè, No. 278, "L'Acidduzzu" ("Little Bird"), and one from Tuscany in Nerucci, Cincelle da Bambini, No. 12.

[2] Köhler, in his notes to this story, gives parallels from various parts of Europe. To these may be added Asbjørnsen and Moe, Nos. 42, 102 [Dasent, Tales from the Fjeld, p. 35, "The Greedy Cat"]. Comp. Halliwell, p. 29, "The story of Chicken-licken." A French version is in the Romania, No. 32, p. 554 (Cosquin, No. 45), where copious references to this class of stories may be found. Add to these those by Köhler in Zeitschrift für rom. Phil. III. p. 617.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Cock, 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 20D*: Pilgrimage of the Animals

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