Famous Stories or Epics
Epic tales and legends are very much alive in Albanian regions. They are learnt by heart and pass from one generation to the next. The fundamental theme of Albanian folk tales is the struggle between good and evil. Usually readers assure that in the fantastic world of Albanian folk literature the good always win out.
One of the most famous legends is Besa Konstandinit (Constandis Promise), or Who Brought Doruntine Back:
Doruntine was the only daughter in a family with 13 children. When Doruntine was asked in marriage by a foreign prince, everyone in the family disagreed to let her go so far away. Only Constandin, the youngest of Doruntine’s twelve brothers, wants to make her happy and promises his mother that he’ll bring Doruntine back to see mother as soon as mother wants to. Mother then agreed to the marriage because of Constandin’s promise. Also all twelve brothers agree to the marriage, but soon they all die in a war, Constandin included. Mother cannot bear the loss of all of her children and not having even her daughter close to her at an old age, her mourning too heavy to bear. Her monologue is full of pathos and anger. During her rage she curses her own dead son, Constandin, who made her a promise he couldn’t keep. At the curse, Constandin wakes up from death and brings Doruntine back, because a mother’s curse even after death, is worse than anything else. He finds Doruntine dancing during Easter time. Doruntine knew absolutely nothing about all 12 brothers being dead. Constandin tells her to come immediately with him and brings Doruntine back overnight on the back of his horse. She observes that he looks tired and that he is full of dust, but he tells her that it’s because of the long trip. She cannot know that he is already dead. When they arrive back home, he leaves her at the door and tells her that he has to go to take the horse inside the barn, but instead goes back to his grave. Doruntine doesn’t realize that she has travelled on his brother’s horse when he was already dead, until she is told so by her mother. The finale is breathtaking because of the shock of the two women who realize that Constandin has risen from the dead.
Another famous legend is RozafaCastle. Rozafa was the castle associated with a famous legend about a woman who was buried in the foundation of the castle:
Three brothers were set about building the castle. They worked all day, but the walls fell down at night. They met a clever old man who advised them to sacrifice someone so that the walls would stand. The three brothers found it difficult to decide whom to sacrifice. Finally, they decided to sacrifice one of their wives who would bring lunch to them the next day. So they agreed that whichever of their wives was the one to bring them lunch the next day was the one who would be buried in the wall of the castle. They also promised not to tell their wives of this. The two older brothers, however, explained the situation to their wives that night, while the honest youngest brother said nothing. The next afternoon at lunch time, the brothers waited anxiously to see which wife was carrying the basket of food. It was Rozafa, the wife of the youngest brother. He explained to her what the deal was, that she was to be sacrificed and buried in the wall of the castle so that they could finish building it, and she didn’t protest. Rozafa, who was predestined to be walled, was worried about her infant son, so she accepted being walled on condition that they must leave her right breast exposed so as to feed her newborn son, her right hand to caress him and her right foot to rock his cradle:
When you wall me Leave my right eye exposed Leave my right hand exposed Leave my right foot exposed for the sake of my newborn son so that when he starts crying Let me see him with one eye Let me caress him with one hand Let me feed him with one breast Let me rock his cradle with one foot May the castle breast be walled May the castle rise strong May my son be happy