I love how descriptive and imaginative these myths are. The story of Hassebu is particularly fascinating.
Hassebu starts out being unable to learn anything. He goes to school, to a clothes-making shop, and to a silversmith’s shop, but retains nothing he studies. However, he develops an interest in his father’s profession as a physician and finds one remaining medical book that he reads voraciously. What does this mean exactly?
He goes off with some woodcutters and discovers a huge deposit of honey under the ground. When they gather up all the honey, they betray Hassebu and leave him in the giant hole. He makes his way out and finds the palace of the King of Snakes, a literal snake with robes and a crown. They make friends but, even though the serpent warns him this would happen, when Hassebu finally goes back to his home town, he is forced to betray the King for the life of the sultan. But the king understands and still gives him a way out of his bleak fate. He becomes a physician, like his father.
This is such an interesting and unpredictable story. Anyone who makes friends with the King of Snakes must be pretty special. He starts out not being able to learn anything and comes out as a physician. Where is the transformation?
Bibliography. The Violet Fairy Book by Andrew Lang and illustrated by H. J. Ford (1901).
Featured image: Hassebu and the King of Snakes