While exploring an underground used-book full of musky leather bound books I began talking with the clerk. We had something in common, we were both classicists. (Are all clerks at used bookstores classicists?) His academic credentials gave him far great claim to the title. I asked about a fairy tale I had long looked for; a witch and king in a marriage of convenience. He didn’t know the specific tale, but he knew a similar motif in the Nart Sagas from the Caucasus by John Colarusso.
Oddly enough, I was familiar with the Nart sagas thanks to My Adventures in the Caucasus by Alexander Dumas. Monsieur Dumas is the person who made me aware that the people of the Caucasus knew about the binding of the Titan Prometheus. It is Saga 34 in Colarusso’s book.
Colarusso translates myriad folk tales from the myriad peoples of the Caucasus. All though these peoples used indifferent languages, practiced different traditions and worshipped different versions of the Abrahamic God they all seemed to share similar folk tale. The “Nart” are the demi-god children of a Golden Tree. The tales are degenerate myths of ancient gods. They did not display the artistry or length I expected from a “saga”. The wives are witches or fairy brides. It is easy to read into them the Choice of Achilles, Prometheus/Loki, the Sword in the Stone all sorts of Indo-European mythological myths. But, maybe it is better to read them as the wise folk tales and ancient lays they are.