S. Thompson. Motif-index of folk-literature : a classification of narrative elements in folktales, ballads, myths, fables, mediaeval romances, exempla, fabliaux, jest-books, and local legends.

Revised and enlarged edition. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1955-1958. • Main page


Grant support: INTAS project 05-1000008-7922, ÐÔÔÈ #06-06-80-420a, ÐÔÔÈ #07-06-00441-à



U. THE NATURE OF LIFE

DETAILED SYNOPSIS

†U0.--U99. Life's inequalities

†U0. Life's inequalities

†U10. Justice and injustice

†U30. Rights of the strong

†U60. Wealth and poverty

†U100.--U299. Nature of life -- miscellaneous motifs

†U110. Appearances deceive

†U120. Nature will show itself

†U130. The power of habit

†U140. One man's food is another man's poison

†U150. Indifference of the miserable

†U160. Misfortune with oneself to blame the hardest

†U170. Behavior of the blind

†U180. In vino veritas

†U210. Bad ruler, bad subject

†U220. Forced peace valueless

†U230. The nature of sin

†U240. Power of mind over body

†U250. Shortness of life

†U260. Passage of time

†U270. Security breeds indifference

U. THE NATURE OF LIFE.

†U0-†U99. Life's inequalities.

U0. †U0. Life's inequalities.

U10. †U10. Justice and injustice.

U11. †U11. Small trespasses punished; large crimes condoned.

U11.1. †U11.1. Ass punished for stealing mouthful of grass; lion and wolf forgiven for eating sheep. Wesselski Mönchslatein 71 No. 61.

U11.1.1. †U11.1.1. Animals confess sins to one another: fox and wolf forgive each other; punish ass. (Cf. †V20.) *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 350.

U11.1.1.1. †U11.1.1.1. Animals confess sins to lion holding court. All the powerful animals forgiven. Ass and lamb are punished. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U11.1.1.2. †U11.1.1.2. Penitent in confession worries about little sins and belittles the big ones. *Wesselski Arlotto I 191 No. 17; Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U11.2. †U11.2. He who steals much called king; he who steals little called robber. *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 351; Scala Celi 20a No. 120; Alphabet No. 334; Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U11.2.1. †U11.2.1. Wolf punished for theft; kings honored. Wesselski Bebel II 126 No. 82.

U12. †U12. Largest burdens laid on smallest asses: best offices to most ignorant men. *Wesselski Bebel II 121 No. 64.

U14. †U14. Unworthy rewarded instead of the worthy. Italian Novella: *Rotunda.

U15. †U15. Fool laughs at the absurdities he sees about him. (1) Sees a man who is to die that day buy shoes. (2) Sees sheriff leading a man to the gallows: a big thief leading a little one. (3) Sees farmer weeping at funeral of his child, while priest (the real father) sings. Wesselski Mönchslatein 193 No. 153.

U15.0.1. †U15.0.1. Dwarf king (fairy) laughs at the absurdities he sees about him. (1) Sees man who is to die that day complain that his shoes are too thin. (Cf. †J2174.) (2) Sees women adorn their heads when they are immoral below. (Cf. †J2050.) (3) Sees man remove from his wife's garment dust gathered while she lay with another man. (Cf. †J2301.3.) (4) Sees persons making plans while forgetting to say, "If God wills." Irish myth: *Cross.

U15.1. †U15.1. Philosopher laughs at the vanities and sins of the world. His companion weeps. Spanish: Childers.

U18. †U18. The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. Jewish: Neuman.

U21. †U21. Justice depends on the point of view.

U21.1. †U21.1. Hen complains that man eats her, but she eats ant. Indonesia: DeVries's list No. 101.

U21.2. †U21.2. A gift of property silences criticism. A priest who has preached against lucrative places given the clergy is silent when he receives one. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 546.

U21.3. †U21.3. Man complains of injustice of gods' wrecking ship because of one man's sin. He then kills whole swarm of ants because one has stung him. Wienert FFC LVI 77 (ET 429), 103 (ST 161); Halm No. 118; Irish: O'Suilleabhain 11, Beal XXI 305.

U21.4. †U21.4. Wolf objects to lion stealing sheep from him although he has himself stolen it. Wienert FFC LVI 55 (ET 148), 129 (ST 366); Halm No. 279.

U21.5. †U21.5. Judge reduces penalty when accused is his own son. India: Thompson-Balys.

U25. †U25. Theft to avoid starvation forgiven. *Chauvin II 126 No. 128.

U27. †U27. Swallow killed in court house by snake laments injustice in house of justice. Wienert FFC LVI 50 (ET 100), 140 (ST 464); Halm No. 418.

U30. †U30. Rights of the strong. Wienert FFC LVI 147.

U31. †U31. Wolf unjustly accuses lamb and eats him. When all the lamb's defenses are good the wolf asserts the right of the strong over the weak. (Usually accused of stirring up water from lower in stream.) (Cf. †U141.) Wienert FFC LVI 50 (ET 97), 148 (ST 526); Halm Aesop No. 274; *Crane Vitry 191 No. 135; Herbert III 12; Alphabet No. 631; Jacobs Aesop 199 No. 2; Italian Novella: Rotunda; Indonesia: DeVries's list No. 83 (monkey and goat).

U31.1. †U31.1. Cat unjustly accuses cock and eats him. Although all the cock's defenses are good the cat tells him that she can no longer go hungry and eats him. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U31.2. †U31.2. Crow exercises rights of strong over dove who cannot defend self. Dove at crow's request sings to save her brood which crow kills after song. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U32. †U32. Smallness of offense no excuse when hunter prepares to kill lark. She has stolen but a single grain of wheat. Wienert FFC LVI 64 (ET 273), 146 (ST 513); Halm Aesop No. 209.

U33. †U33. Cock killed by his captors in spite of his plea of usefulness to man. Wienert FFC LVI 49, 64 (ET 88, 280, 281), 146, 148 (ST 514, 527, 528); Halm Aesop Nos. 14, 195, 341.

U34. †U34. Nobleman murders one of the people. Goes unpunished. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U34.1. †U34.1. Nobleman who kills one of the people is brought to justice only after long delay. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U35. †U35. Rich man (king) seizes poor widow's (nun's) cow. Herbert III 40ff. No. 39; Hervieux IV No. 40; Irish myth: *Cross.

U35.1. †U35.1. King seizes old woman's cow. Irish myth: *Cross.

U35.1.1. †U35.1.1. King seizes poor man's lamb. Jewish: Neuman.

U35.2. †U35.2. Nobles ruin peasant's (widow's) crops with impunity. India: *Thompson-Balys.

U36. †U36. Lion cub killed by bull gives lioness no right to complain. Wienert FFC LVI 50 (ET 92), 129 (ST 367); Halm Aesop No. 395.

U37. †U37. Wolf as commander orders all booty divided, but keeps his own. Wienert FFC LVI 47 (ET 58), 103 (ST 157); Halm Aesop No. 281.

U38. †U38. Ruler exiles subject for trivial remark. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U41. †U41. Ruler forces bishop to ordain ignorant priest. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U42. †U42. Praise what your master likes and scorn what he dislikes. India: Thompson-Balys.

U60. †U60. Wealth and poverty.

U61. †U61. Dividing after God's fashion: little to poor, much to rich. *Wesselski Hodscha Nasreddin II 233 No. 509, Bebel I 232 No. 149, Mensa Philosophica No. 63.

U63. †U63. Priest has no friends until he becomes bishop: then they flock to him. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 421.

U65. †U65. Wealth is relative: beggar with horse, wife, or dog considered rich by poorer beggar. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 612.

U65.1. †U65.1. Grass serves as pleasant couch for poor. Jewish: Neuman.

U66. †U66. Every man has his price.

U66.1. †U66.1. Every woman has her price.

U66.1.1. †U66.1.1. Bid raised for queen's favors until she hesitates. Jester replies, "If a man have goods enough, he might have a sovereign lady." England, U.S.: *Baughman.

U67. †U67. Jester takes cow and tells king people have plenty of milk, for "he who is warm thinks everyone else is." India: Thompson-Balys.

U68. †U68. Optimist becomes pessimist when his money is stolen. India: Thompson-Balys.

U71. †U71. Man so constantly enriched by God that he cannot give all his goods to the poor. Herbert III 7; Crane Vitry 175 No. 97.

U81. †U81. Great possessions bring great risks. Jewish: Neuman.

U81.1. †U81.1. Dove's pride in her large brood linked with fear for their loss. Wienert FFC LVI 44 (ET 21), 141 (ST 470); Halm Aesop No. 358.

U83. †U83. King in exile neglected, but courted when he regains throne. India: Thompson-Balys.

U84. †U84. Price of object depends on where it is on sale. India: Thompson-Balys.

†U100-†U299. The nature of life -- miscellaneous motifs.

U110. †U110. Appearances deceive. Wienert FFC LVI 123.

U111. †U111. Many books do not make a scholar. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 608.

U111.1. †U111.1. Many books do not make a scholar: youth tricks mother by carrying many books. Pierre Fai-feu No. 3.

U112. †U112. Beard on she-goats do not make a male. Wienert FFC LVI 77 (ET 431), 124 (ST 332).

U113. †U113. Big voice: little creature. (Frogs, crickets.) Wienert FFC LVI 61, *66 (ET 232, 304), 123 (ST 321, 322); Halm Aesop Nos. 172, 248.

U114. †U114. Mountain in labor brings forth a mouse. Wienert FFC LVI *44 (ET 24), *101 (ST 141); Jacobs Aesop 203 No. 14; Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U115. †U115. The skeleton in the closet. An apparently happy man lets another see the actual misery of his existence. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 223.

U115.1. †U115.1. Apparently happy woman discloses the skeleton of her slain paramour. Italian Novella: *Rotunda.

U116. †U116. Hypocrite is acclaimed as saint after his death. Italian Novella: *Rotunda.

U117. †U117. Man rejects bride because she seems immature. Her father reassures him that she has had several children already. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U119. †U119. Other ways in which appearances deceive. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U119.1. †U119.1. Revelations of a satyr. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U119.1.1. †U119.1.1. At a funeral of a child a satyr reveals that the real father (officiating priest) sings while the cuckold weeps. (Cf. †U15.) Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U119.1.2. †U119.1.2. At a hanging the witnesses are bigger thieves than the culprit. (Cf. †U10.) Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U119.2. †U119.2. Peasant wishes to exchange places with monks. Thinks they lead a very easy life. One night's experience in the monastery makes him change his mind. Italian Novella: Rotunda.

U119.3. †U119.3. Handsome exterior does not indicate beautiful soul. Angel holds nose when handsome sinner passes. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U119.4. †U119.4. An ugly face does not mean an ugly soul. A noble and holy man who is very ugly is proved to be a saintly soul. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U119.5. †U119.5. Stories to show that one's name does not alter his condition. India: Thompson-Balys.

U120. †U120. Nature will show itself.

U121. †U121. Like parent, like child.

U121.1. †U121.1. Crab walks backward: learned from his parents. *Crane Vitry 152 No. 44; Wienert FFC LVI *63 (ET 258), *103 (ST 159); Halm Aesop No. 187.

U121.2. †U121.2. Hind, like his mother, flees before the hounds. Useless for her to urge him to stand up against them. Wienert FFC LVI *63 (ET 256), 103 (ST 158, 501); Halm Aesop No. 130.

U121.3. †U121.3. Farmer's son and noble's reared in country. The former takes to toil on farm, the latter to riding and hunting. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U121.4. †U121.4. Alleged son of king proved to be bastard when he displays habits of his true father. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U121.5. †U121.5. Father, like son, acts foolishly at king's court. India: Thompson-Balys.

U121.6. †U121.6. Butcher's son becomes cruel and atrocious ruler. India: Thompson-Balys.

U122. †U122. Dungbeetle prefers his dunghill to all other smells. Wienert FFC LVI 60 (ET 217), 119 (ST 292); Halm Aesop No. 185; Herbert III 35ff.; India: Thompson-Balys.

U122.1. †U122.1. Beetles treated with as much honor as oxen will not learn to act as oxen. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U123. †U123. Hog goes to bath but wallows in the mud. Chauvin III 39 No. 2.

U124. †U124. Scorpion, in spite of himself, stings the turtle carrying him across the stream. Is drowned. *Chauvin II 117 No. 95.

U125. †U125. Wolf loses interest in the sermon when he sees a flock of sheep. A dervish preaches to him. Chauvin II 125 No. 123; Scala Celi 50b No. 285; Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U125.1. †U125.1. Heron (crane) loses interest in heaven if there are no snails. India: *Thompson-Balys.

U126. †U126. Dog allowed to warm self in house begins to bark. Is chased off. Chauvin III 39 No. 1.

U127. †U127. Fawn, in spite of his fine horns, runs from the dog. Wienert FFC LVI 63 (ET 257), 89 (ST 12): Halm Aesop No. 303.

U128. †U128. Tiger son of human mother scratches her and licks her blood. India: Thompson-Balys.

U128.1. †U128.1. Tiger father of human child licks its blood. India: Thompson-Balys.

U129. †U129. Nature will show itself -- miscellaneous.

U129.1. †U129.1. Thieving nature of the fox will show itself. Nouvelles Récréations No. 29.

U129.2. †U129.2. Prostitute will deceive new lover as always. India: Thompson-Balys.

U129.3. †U129.3. Washerman as minister thinks of washing and fails the king. India: Thompson-Balys.

U130. †U130. The power of habit. Wienert FFC LVI 111.

U130.1. †U130.1. Newly rich cannot resist call for distribution of food to beggars. India: Thompson-Balys.

U131. †U131. Familiarity takes away fear.

U131.1. †U131.1. Fox finally converses with lion whom he had feared at first. Wienert FFC LVI 60 (ET 224), 111 (ST 224); Halm Aesop No. 39; Jacobs Aesop 208 No. 34.

U131.2. †U131.2. Men at first frightened at camel take him into their service. Wienert FFC LVI 66 (ET 306), 111 (ST 224); Halm Aesop No. 180.

U133. †U133. Man soon learns to stand the smells of the tannery. Wienert FFC LVI 81 (ET 474), 111 (ST 226); Halm Aesop No. 368; India: Thompson-Balys.

U133.1. †U133.1. Farmer prefers stable smells to flowers. Latter make him ill. Wesselski Mönchslatein 13 No. 8; Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U134. †U134. Knight doesn't want to go to heaven if there are no hunting dogs there. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U135. †U135. Longing for accustomed food and living.

U135.1. †U135.1. At feast cat chooses rat meat; other animals cannot eat it. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U135.2. †U135.2. Shepherd in king's palace sickens for country air. India: Thompson-Balys.

U135.3. †U135.3. Former slave sickens for accustomed food. Spanish Exempla: Keller; India: Thompson-Balys.

U135.3.1. †U135.3.1. Peasant girl married to king longs for peasant ways of eating. India: Thompson-Balys.

U135.3.2. †U135.3.2. Peasants fed white bread demand the rye bread to which they are accustomed. Pauli (ed. Bolte). No. 570.

U136. †U136. Fisher and hunter exchange catches for variety: soon return to original food. Wienert FFC LVI 81 (ET 475), 111 (ST 227); Japanese: Ikeda.

U136.1. †U136.1. Dissatisfied workmen exchange work: still more dissatisfied. Bødker Exempler 276 No. 14; India: Thompson-Balys.

U136.2. †U136.2. Beasts and fishes exchange places: fatal to both. India: Thompson-Balys.

U137. †U137. Mill horse when taken to war keeps going in a circle, as he has learned in the mill. *Liebrecht 110f.

U138. †U138. Habit of dishonesty (thievery) cannot be broken.

U138.1. †U138.1. Dishonest silversmith restless until silver ornament is mixed with alloy. India: Thompson-Balys.

U138.2. †U138.2. Thieves cannot quit plundering. India: Thompson-Balys.

U139. †U139. Power of habit -- miscellaneous.

U139.1. †U139.1. Habitual food and drink continued even when it is harmful. Bødker Exempler.

U139.2. †U139.2. Conservatism defies reason.

U139.2.1. †U139.2.1. Conservative but absurd way of slaughtering hog stubbornly kept. India: Thompson-Balys.

U140. †U140. One man's food is another man's poison. Wienert FFC LVI 121.

U141. †U141. Enmity between fisherman and dweller on the river. Fishing stirs up the water and makes it unfit for drinking. (Cf. †U31.) Wienert FFC LVI 84 (ET 512), 121 (ST 303); Halm Aesop No. 25.

U142. †U142. Ox likes loving strokes of man; flea fears them. Wienert FFC LVI 60 (ET 223), 121 (ST 307); Halm Aesop No. 426.

U143. †U143. Collier and fuller cannot live together: one makes things clean, the other soils them. Wienert FFC LVI 85 (ET 513), 121 (ST 305); Halm Aesop No. 59.

U144. †U144. Nightingale cannot lodge with birds whose nest is made of manure. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U146. †U146. Royalty unable to endure coarse entertainment.

U146.1. †U146.1. Coarse food, etc., sends adulterous king back to his wife. India: Thompson-Balys.

U147. †U147. Animals try unsuccessfully to exchange food. India: *Thompson-Balys.

U148. †U148. Good weather for one is foul for another. Cf. Heywood's Play of the Weather.

U148.1. †U148.1. Bird wants sunshine, worm clouds. India: Thompson-Balys.

U149. †U149. What is one man's food is another man's poison -- miscellaneous.

U149.1. †U149.1. Lions despise what asses admire (braying). India: Thompson-Balys.

U150. †U150. Indifference of the miserable.

U151. †U151. Ass indifferent to enemy's approach: he could be no more miserable than now. Wienert FFC LVI 71 (ET 352), 144 (ST 498).

U160. †U160. Misfortune with oneself to blame the hardest. Wienert FFC LVI 117.

U161. †U161. Eagle killed with arrow made with his own feather. Wienert FFC LVI *64 (ET 277), 117 (ST 273); Halm Aesop No. 4; Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U162. †U162. Tree cut down with axe for which it has furnished a handle. Wienert FFC LXI *74 (ET 388), 117 (ST 274); Halm Aesop No. 123; Jewish: *Neuman; India: Thompson-Balys.

U170. †U170. Behavior of the blind.

U171. †U171. Blind man crosses a narrow bridge which his guide is afraid to attempt. Alphabet No. 140.

U172. †U172. Two blind men succeed in fooling each other about their blindness. India: Thompson-Balys.

U173. †U173. Futile attempt to explain to a blind man meaning of "white". India: Thompson-Balys.

U180. †U180. In vino veritas. Jewish: *Neuman.

U181. †U181. Man unable to persuade wife to confess misdeed to priest succeeds when he makes her drunk. (Cf. †J1141.) Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 242.

U210. †U210. Bad ruler, bad subject.

U211. †U211. No great knights now because no great kings. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 531.

U212. †U212. To have good servants a lord must be good. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 532.

U220. †U220. Forced peace valueless.

U221. †U221. Monk under pressure from abbot forgives the crucifix which has fallen and hurt him. He says that nevertheless there will always be hatred between them. *Wesselski Arlotto II 222 No. 90; *Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 336.

U230. †U230. The nature of sin.

U230.0.1. †U230.0.1. Monk leaves monastery when he sees a devil there tempting brethren. Returns when in the world he sees scores of devils tempting the people. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U231. †U231. Hermit having rebuked youth falls himself when exposed to the same sin. Herbert III 5; *Crane Vitry 169 No. 81.

U231.1. †U231.1. Monk rebukes brethren who succumb to temptation. When he is exposed to it he understands what temptation is. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U232. †U232. No place secret enough for sin. Alphabet No. 3; Wienert FFC LVI 80 (ET 458), 138 (ST 441); Halm No. 354.

U235. †U235. Lying is incurable. A father asks about his son. When he hears that he lies, he gives the son up as hopeless. Other sins may be outgrown. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 393; Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U235.1. †U235.1. Liar cannot be healed even when taking bath in the Ganges. India: Thompson-Balys.

U236. †U236. False repentance of the sick. Wolf having eaten too much meat promises God to eat no more meat. When he becomes well he eats as before. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 307.

U236.1. †U236.1. False repentance of the sick, rich man. After his death it was discovered that he had intended to retrieve his money from church if he recovered. Spanish Exempla: Keller.

U240. †U240. Power of mind over body.

U241. †U241. King grows lean from fear of death. *Chauvin VIII 181 No. 213.

U242. †U242. Hares fearing death outrun pursuing dogs. Wienert FFC LVI 51 (ET 103), 142 (ST 476); Japanese: Ikeda.

U242.1. †U242.1. The hare's last will. Surrounded by hunters and hounds, the hare considers to whom each of his members will be allotted. Succeeds in escaping. Lithuanian: Balys Index No. 160*; Prussian: Plenzat 8.

U243. †U243. Courage conquers all and impossible is made possible. India: Thompson-Balys.

U250. †U250. Shortness of life. Jewish: *Neuman.

U251. †U251. The bad custom in the world: the young die as well as the old. Hence youth enters monastery. *Crane Vitry 184 No. 116; Alphabet No. 212; *Mensa Philosophica No. 181.

U260. †U260. Passage of time.

U261. †U261. Time seems short to those who play, long for those who wait. So says servant girl whose mistress upbraids her for late hours. Wesselski Bebel I 185 No. 39.

U262. †U262. Suffering healed by time. Jewish: *Neuman.

U270. †U270. Security breeds indifference.

U271. †U271. Cat ceases catching rats as soon as he is given a home in a monastery. Thus with lazy priests. Pauli (ed. Bolte) No. 573.