USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘fate’
Tales /märchen

Prince and the Lion

10) Prince and the Lion

-) There was a prince who was born in a castle. It is said by a prophet that before he reaches the age of 12, a lion will look at the prince and cause the prince to die.

Thus, the King and Queen locked the prince in the castle, and never let him outside, fearing for any sorts of accidents to happen.

One day the prince (age 11 and a half) was bored and was wandering in the hallway, he sees this intricate design of the lion on the wall paper. The prince imagined that he was playing with these lions and thus he was tracing the lion’s shapes on the wall.

However, in the place of the lion’s eye, there was a nail; and so when the Prince accidentally traced it with his finger, he got cut and got tetanus, and he died from it.

-) The moral of this story is that no matter how hard you try to avoid something, what is bound to happen is bound to happen. This is widely believed by many Greek people, and it is a theme that is deeply ingrained in their culture. In many greek plays and myths and legends, we can see that when the main character tries to escape their fate, fate just leads them right back into where they tried to run away from. (ex: Oedipus.)

-) My Greek friend heard this story from her grandmother, and her mother; it was one of the bedtime stories that was told to her. She performed this to me when she heard that I was collecting folklore stories; but rather than a performance it was pretty concise and flat.

-) I think it is very interesting how the theme of fate is so ingrained in greek cultures; from ancient greek plays, myths, to different folklore tales. Even my friend told me that this is something she believed in. These tales must have played a pretty significant role in shaping her belief.

 

Folk speech
Proverbs

Cuban Proverb

Original Script: “El que nace para real, a peseta nunca llega.”

Transliteration: “He who borns for real [Cuban coin, equivalent to a dime], to peseta [Cuban coin, equivalent to a quarter] never arrives.”

Translation: “He who is born to a dime will never make it to a quarter.”

 

This Cuban proverb talks about fate. Essentially, it means that if someone is born to never be wealthy, there’s nothing they can do to change that. According to the source, it has to do with fate. Some people just aren’t “fated” to be wealthy. She’s heard it used in a couple different ways. On one hand, it can be used by someone as a way to put others down, to tell them that they’ll never amount to much more than what they already are. On the other hand, it can be used to comfort those who aren’t happy with their economic status by telling them that it’s not their fault that they’re not as wealthy as they’d like to be, that it’s just destiny.

The strong tie to destiny is probably due to Cubans’ religious beliefs. The majority of Cubans are Catholics, and they believe that God has a plan for all of us. So, in this case, they use their belief in God to justify economic status. The proverb also puts a lot of emphasis on money being what defines a person. This is very interesting, considering Cuba’s status as a Communist country.

The source left Cuba during the rise of Castro’s regime. Under Castro’s governance, there hasn’t been much social mobility in Cuba. One  typically stays within the socio-economic class they;re born in. If we are to view the proverb through this lens, then, it becomes much more literal. When we say that “He who is born to a dime will never make it to a quarter,” rather than it referring to God or fate, it refers to the state of the country. Anyone who is born in a low social class will not move up. That’s how Cuban society had been engineered to be.

The two interpretations aren’t all that different though, really. In both cases, the proverb speaks to a sense of hopelessness. One is dealt a certain hand in life, and they are forced to play with it forever. It makes sense, especially, with the way Cubans have felt under Castro, especially the ones who emigrated to the US. Had I spoken to a Cuban currently living in Cuba, there’s a chance they’d never use such a proverb. Whereas in Miami, anyone who came from Cuba is almost guaranteed to be anti-Castro, and a proverb like this captures their sentiments and the impression he left on them before they left the country.

folk metaphor
Life cycle
Narrative
Tales /märchen

The Legendary Quarterback from Troy

My informant told me the following legend about a Quarterback from Troy. It parallels the football career of USC quarterback Matt Barkley:

There was once this historic quarterback, came to the land of Troy, meant to do big things, but, little did he know, some things behind the scenes would be changing the outlook of his career. As a result, two of his four years ended without much public knowledge, but his last one, he meant to go out on a good note. He came back for the championship, yet, fate was not on his side. Little injuries added up, the teams on schedule beat him up, so it came to an end as a disappointment – but that wasn’t the only disappointment. When looked upon to go onto the next level, the once highly esteemed most wanted quarterback, had to wait three days, going from a projected top ten to the 98th overall pick, yet, that is just another beginning to the story, as he can do so much more now that he has no expectations, on one looking over his shoulder, let’s see if he can make the Philadelphia eagles fly.

The above story obviously parallels Matt Barkley’s career at USC, chronicling his first two years in relative obscurity, his glorious Junior year, and then his disastrous Senior year, in which, he became injured, and then went late in the NFL draft. However, the tale expresses optimism that he will return to greatness in the NFL, and once again rise to prominence. This piece of folklore is interesting insofar as it takes a piece of recent history and turns it into merchen. My informant claimed this story was in his Fraternity’s book of legends, which is a collection of the great stories in the land of Troy. Apparently, at some point, someone turned the history of Matt Barkley into merchen, and recorded it as such to be passed down as Epic.

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