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Πέμπτη, 17 Μαΐου 2007

SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON: A FOLK TALE FROM CYPRUS

Once upon a time, there was in the parts of the East, a city which was called Beyrouth. Rich and beautify, build amongst cedars, thousands of tall cedars, which made it even more beautiful. Outside Beythouth, there was a well, and a spring from which night and day run, sparkling cold water, irrigating the city. It quenched the thirst of all beings, humans, plants and animals. On its way it irrigated gardens and orchards and what ever was left would flow singing down to the sea to unite with it. One day, a dragon went into the cave, which was the source of the water, and made it his home. Not only did he take control of the water, but he didn't let it flow at all in order to irrigate the city. The flowers withered away, and so did the plants. All living beings went thirsty, plants, animals, birds, and humans. They all fell in deep sadness and in heavy thinking. There were not many Christians in the city at that time. People run to the temples, the oracles, and to the wise men, hoping that someone would find the answer to this misfortune. One day a wise man said to them. "What a misfortune! You are in bad luck, you and your children. The wrath of the dragon cannot be stopped unless there is a human sacrifice: you must throw him a child each day to eat. "Who has such a heart to commit such an act? And who would have the bad luck to start first? Laments and wailing took over as soon as the orator of such horrid news went to silence. The whole city was terrified of his words, and the wailing of the mothers shocked the air. The fear of the oracle overtook the city and paralyzed the strength of the people and penetrated their minds. As always, the poor pay first, and it was the poorest who started to send him their children. What a great calamity! The days were many, one day ate the other, and so were the days for the dragon who ate the children. When the turn of the King came, he did not want to send his only child, his daughter. "We must throw your daughter to the dragon because it's now her lot" the people yielded, "otherwise we will burn the palace". What could the king do?The lot had fallen on his daughter."Take my kingdom, but leave me my daughter", the king cried! But no-one now wanted neither Kingdoms, nor richness, nor glory. None of these had any value in front of some fresh water. The princess left her parents with a heavy heart and went to be sacrificed to the dragon. She was alone, and she seemed to be the same as the sun, who also went to set , and then darkness would take life over. She was as pure as the freshness of a lemon blossom, beautiful as a lily from the fields, dressed all in gold, as a decoration of the universe-the most beautiful being which existed in the city-except that she was all alone, as in the desert, betrayed by all. By wailing, she tried to find comfort, turning her pain into words. She was crying out to God-who would she call at such a time? And the saints, all whom she knew, all whom she heard that existed. Especially she cried to Saint George about whom she heard that he listens to people's cries for help very quickly. Was the prayer of the girl so deep? Or was it the will of God for this to happen? Who knows his plans? What everybody knows is that Saint George appeared determined to save the girl's life and let the water flow back into the city. He was young ,handsome, courageous, and had the power of God within him. He spoke to the girl with kindness but with a stern voice to the dragon. His words were clear cut like his sword, and his sword never missed its target. Without any hesitation, he hit the dragon with the head of his spear and the dragon fell on the ground. He tied up the dragon with a chain and the Saint gave it to the princess. With fear and hesitation she took the chain, and with the help of the Saint's white horse, she pulled the dragon to the city. The water once again started to flow in abundance and slowly, slowly, birds and animals started to overcome their fear and would return back to the spring to drink water. The whole universe was revitalized, the sun smiled, the trees, the flowers, everything came back to life. But also humans came out of their hiding as soon as they saw the dragon dead, and they were so happy that they started to call on to their king to come out of his palace. As soon as the king heard the news, he jumped from his throne and run to hug his daughter, to see the young man, to thank him, and give him what ever he asked for. He offered his kingdom and his treasures, he offered to give him his daughter and make him the king. However, the Saint did not accept any of the king's presents, except he asked that a church be build in Beythouth to his name. The king and the people with great enthusiasm run to build the church, and soon a great and magnificent building overlooked the city's skyline. Truly, in this majestic church dedicated to the name of Saint George, the princess was baptized first, followed by the the court of the palace, and then by the common people. They wanted and become Christians. Since then, on the date of April 23rd, they remember him with gratitude and thank him for saving them from the vicious Dragon. Beyrouth again found its happy rhythm and its great beauty. Now the city looked even more beautiful with its many churches and chapels and the crosses over their roof-tops. After all that, I took the ship for Cyprus, and I left wishing them well, and I wish you who read this to be even better.


A folk tale from Cyprus
Put into written form by Charalambos Epaminontas
Translated from Greek by NOCTOC

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