Obscure fairy tales: The golden lion

The Golden Lion is (I think) an obscure fairy tale from Italy.  Common threads of this story include a hidden princess, a hapless youth and his brothers, a mysterious old person who has the answer and a bet with the king.

3 brothers set out one by one and each in his turn comes to a kingdom where the king will marry his daughter to the man who can find her. But any man who fails after 8 days loses his head. The first eldest brothers both failed. They walked past an old woman looking for money, both had refused her. When the youngest brother comes by he gives her money. In turn, she helps him by taking him to a goldsmith where he had a lion fashioned out of gold. The young man climbed inside the lion and took it to the king. He was so fascinated by it, he offered great sums of money for it. She agreed to lend it to him for one night.

The king brought the lion down to amuse his daughter, unwittingly showing the youth exactly how to find the princess. The princess is easy to note as the only girl who jumps up and greets the king as “Father” but she is surrounded by a dozen others who look exactly like her.  The princess has no idea he’s in there and plays with the lion until bed time. She  pulls the lion beside her and goes to sleep (Ignore the creep factor that he is watching her sleep)

Once the boy is sure all the others are fast asleep, he tells the princess his story and charms her. they fall in love of course and the boy tells her what her father has been up to.  The princess does not approve and resolves to help him win so no other men lose their lives. While she and her serving girls will all be dressed alike, she will wear a white sash so he knows her at once.

The lion is returned the next day to the old woman with the boy still in it (Really hope he doesn’t have to pee, he’s been in there a while.) The boy returns the next day and  says he can find the princess. he follows the plan and wins the princess and the kingdom and the whole tamale.


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