Das Lied vom Schwimmer und seine Herkunft

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Steph. D. Imellos


The hero of this song is a young swimmer, who boasts or even bets in
the presence of the king, or noblemen etc., that he can cross the sea swimming. His attempt, though, is unsuccessful because he is drowned and does not therefore

conquer the daughter of the king, whom the king promised to give him
as a bride, had he succeeded.
N. G. Politis supports that it belongs to the first of two types of a song
with a broader content. The second type refers to a young brave diver who
goes down the well to get the ring of a young lady—the ghost of the well—
who promises to marry him. The young man is finally drowned. This view
is held by G. K. Spyridakis and K. Romaios.
This study attempts to show a) that the song of the swimmer is independent
of the song of the diver, in spite of the resemblance in the details of it’s variation;
b) that the model of the song is not the ancient myth of Theseus, as N. G.
Politis believed, but a later one, namely, Hero and Leander, which has come
down to us by Mousaios in his homonymous work; c) the song does not have
a servile dependence of the myth, which could lead to the idea that the creation
of the song is possibly a later literary text. On the contrary, it moves freely,
as far as style and theme are concerned, keeping close to the kernel of the
ancient narration, which is typical of the original folk-songs, that have been
worked out lengthily by the people; d) as far as the place where the song has
been composed, it is probably northern Greece, where it is found to be widely

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