Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  Basque  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

p. 76


UNDER this head, we include all those legends which do not readily fall under our other denominations. Fée and fairy are not synonymous. All such tales as those of the "Arabian Nights" might come within the designation of Contes des Fées, but they could hardly be included under Fairy Tales, though the former may be said to embrace the latter. We have divided our legends of this kind into two sections:--(A) Those which have a greater or less similarity to Keltic legends, as recorded in Campbell's "Tales of the West Highlands," and elsewhere; (B) Those which we believe to be derived directly from the French.

We have chosen the designation Keltic, because the burning question concerning the Basques at present is their relation to the Keltic race. Anything that can throw light upon this will have a certain interest for a small portion of the scientific world. That these legends do in some degree resemble the Keltic ones will, we think, be denied by no one. Whether they have a closer affinity with them than with the general run of Indo-European mythology may be an open question. Or, again, whether the Basques have borrowed from the Kelts, or the Kelts from the Basques, we leave undetermined. One legend here given, that of "Juan Dekos," has clearly been borrowed from the Gaelic, and that since the Keltic occupation of the Hebrides. 1 The very

p. 77

term Keltiberi, as used by the classical writers, shows some contact of the Kelts with the Basques in ancient times, whether we take Basque and Iberi to be co-extensive and convertible terms or not. What the rôle of the "White Mare" is in these tales we do not understand. Can it be connected with the figure of a horse which appears so frequently on the so-called Keltiberian coins, or is it a mere variation of the Sanscrit "Harits, or horses of the sun?" Campbell, Vol. I., p. 63, says these "were always feminine, as the horses in Gaelic stories are."

It may be, perhaps, as well to mention that we did not see Campbell's "Tales of the West Highlands" till after these legends had been written down.


76:1 See notes to "Juan Dekos," p. 146.

Next: Malbrouk