He who dares not, wins not

Ljubljana Dragon

The dragon came out of the cave.

(Cienzo) stepped aside and saw Menechella pass by with the mourning train, accompanied by the ladies of the court and all the women of the land, wringing their hands and tearing out their hair by handfuls, and bewailing the sad fate of the poor girl. Then the dragon came out of the cave. But Cienzo laid hold of his sword and struck off a head in a trice, but the dragon went and rubbed his neck on a certain plant which grew not far off, and suddenly the head joined itself on again, like a lizard joining itself to its tail. Cienzo, seeing this, exclaimed, “he who dares not, wins not;” and, setting his teeth, he struck such a furious blow that he cut off all seven heads, which flew from the necks like peas from the pan. Whereupon he took out the tongues, and putting them in his pocket, he flung the heads a mile apart from the body, so that they might never come together again.

from Stories from the Pentamerone, The Merchant
by Giambattista Basile (circa 1575 – 1632)
image – Dani_7C3, Ljubljana Dragon

Origins of Fairy Tales

Giambattista Basile was an Italian courtier and soldier who recorded and retold the earliest versions of many of our most familiar fairy tales. Much of his extensive collection is believed to be transcriptions of old, orally transmitted tales from Crete and Venice.

Later, storytellers like Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm mined Basile’s stories. The Brothers Grimm, especially, relied on Basile for early versions of Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Puss in Boots, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty.

Think about it. Four hundred years after Giambattista Basile, Walt Disney built Disneyland’s Cinderella Castle. For how many years before Basile had versions of the same stories been passed from parent to child? There is something there to want to remember, and pass on.

Seize the day.
Slay the dragon.
He who dares not, wins not.

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