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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/221

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Folklore Parallels and Coincidences.

magic castle or cavern, unapproachable by vulgar steps, till awakened at a predestined signal at some season of extreme need. King Arthur in Avalon, the Emperor Barbarossa in the Kyffhäuser Cave, Holger the Dane under Kronenburg Castle, are familiar instances. In a cavern over the Lake of Lucerne the three Tells lie slumbering till called forth by Switzerland's greatest danger. In later classical times Achilles still dwelt in the White Island in the Pontic Sea, which, like Mona, none could find unless supernaturally guided. Passing mariners sometimes caught a glimpse of him with his flowing yellow hair and golden armour, and even heard him sing. Once a young sailor, coming upon the mystic islet unawares and landing, fell asleep, when he was aroused by Achilles himself, who led him to a splendid tent and set him to a feast, at which Patroclus poured out wine and Achilles sang to a harp. The youth soon slumbered, and on awaking all had disappeared.[1] This is quite in accordance with many mediæval stories. Very similar legends have arisen even in our own day. In that most beautiful and luxuriant part of the lovely Lake of Como, known as the Tremezzina, where the mountains, retreating backward from the lake, leave a wide level space of extreme fertility, there is a cave some 600 or 700 feet above on the mountain-side, very visible from below. The ascent to it is precipitous, and the country people relate that in the time of the Austrian occupation a band of insurgents, obnoxious to the authorities, had fled to the mountains, and being closely pursued entered the cave, followed by the Austrian soldiers; but none have ever since come out. They are believed to be there still, whether laid in trance and expected ever to reappear I could not clearly ascertain. Anyway, it seemed to me an instance of a legend originating in modern days akin to many mediæval beliefs.

  1. Maximus Tyrius, Dissertation XXVII.