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Romanian Essay on Similar Moral and Ethical Meaning and Purposes


Legends give insight into the values of a culture. Most of the time, the main role of a legend is to create a certain moral and ethical value system which can apply to the whole society. In this way, a moral code is provided, showing people how they should conduct themselves. That is why they are so inspiring, they teach us about moral values and they provide us with examples of behaviour that can elevate our attitude toward life. When personal values, which are personal beliefs about right and wrong are unanimously accepted by a society or culture, they become cultural values.

Heroic legends incorporate the values of a society and set for the individual the standards and goals of their culture. Legends are not simply entertaining; they serve to educate and channel the energies of the young. The fate of the primitive man was at the mercy of nature and other hostile and unknown forces. Men could not defend themselves in those times but by making use of their intelligence and fantasy.

The most common type of hero is that who fights with a beast which can be embodied by a dragon, a devil, or other mythical creatures. Regardless of the means they use in this combat – ingenuity, courage, or strength – the hero’s epic quest is designed to teach us that eventually good triumphs over bad. Other moral values that appear in legends are determination and dedication in pursuing a goal, whether it is founding a city, building a masterpiece or punishing a wrongdoer. It is also noticeable that the spirit of sacrifice is present in some legends, a sacrifice of the self or of a beloved person. The sacrifice is done for various reasons, from the burning desire of leaving behind a work of art which can be considered the ultimate art manifesto of its creator, like in “The Master Builder Manole” or “Devil’s Bridge”, to pleasing the whims of a beloved daughter, like in “Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss”. 

Fighting evil forces was one of the main goals of the ancient heroes. In the Romanian legend “The Dragon Garden” the hero’s main purpose is to save the lives of the maidens and defeat the evil dragon. Bravery is shown not only by the male hero but also by one of the maidens who used her skills to cast a spell onto the dragons, thus killing them. Similar bravery and the purpose of saving the others are also shown in the legends “Saint George and the Dragon”, “Legend about Neringa” and “Legend about Wawel Dragon”. But while in the first legend the hero is a saint who, before killing the dragon, publicly humiliated it, in the last, the hero was just an ordinary boy who used his ingenuity and not the physical power to kill the dragon. Besides bravery, the hero from “Bies and Czady” showed mercy towards Czads, although they were unwillingly helping the evil creatures, the Bies. An unusual hero who was as brave as the heroes in the previous legends was that from “Pirin’s dragon” because he was not human but also a dragon, whose determination to pursue the revenge of his father’s death made him kill his evil peer. Bravery in fighting the evil is shown by the hero from “The Devil’s Column”, but in this case it is about a saint who does not fight the physical evil but the temptation it induced.  

When creating a work of art, not only the content is important for the creator, but also the moral values which are intertwined with it, and the purpose for which it was conceived. In the relation the master builders or the founders of a city, castle or fortress had with their work there were also moral values such as dedication, determination and, in some situations, the spirit of sacrifice. In the Romanian legend “The master builder Manole”, the purpose the master builder had was to create a masterpiece which can be the permanent evidence of his skills, mastery, and creativity. The determination he proved in his work led him also to agree to sacrifice his beloved wife so that to ensure the stability of the monastery. The same spirit of sacrifice is proved by the bridge builder in the Bulgarian legend “Devil’s Bridge”, as well as the determination in pursuing his goal of giving his masterpiece immovable stability. Determination and dedication had the founders of beautiful cities or castles, like those in “Legend about the establishment of Trakai Castle”, “Legend about Kaunas city foundation” and “Legend about Vilnius city foundation”. Although it is about human sacrifice, in “Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss” we witness a different type of sacrifice, not that of but for a beloved person.

Regardless of the aim a hero was pursuing in his quest, whether it was about saving the lives of the others, rescuing maidens, or protecting the weak, the result was always the same: defeat the evil forces, which had different appearances: dragons, devils, or monsters. In the Romanian legend “The living fire”, the brave hero managed to kill the beast –a dragon – after a difficult two-day fight.  The same bravery and determination in fulfilling their goals showed the heroes from the legends "Saint George and the Dragon”, “The Devil’s Column”, “Legend about Neringa”, “The legend of Wawel Dragon”, “Bies and Czady” and “Pirin’s Dragon”. 

Ancient times can be described as challenging and difficult for most people due to the numerous battles and wars. Ordinary people, as well as nobility, kings and queens, were often subjected to attacks, assaults or simply chased by enemies who wanted to deprive them of their wealth or to take their lives. In both versions of the Romanian legend “The Lady’s Rocks”, the queens had to show courage in front of their assaulters, who were, in the first version, supernatural forces – devils – and in the second Turk soldiers. Although in the first case the queen dies, together with the devil, the bravery the two queens show and the faith they have, that divine forces will rescue them. The same faith is shown by Alda, in the Italian legend “Beautiful Alda”. Being trapped on top of a high cliff after trying to escape from enemy soldiers, the beautiful girl Alda jumps off the cliff after asking for help to St. Michael and Virgin Mary. Her faith saves her, the same as it saves queen Elena, in the second version of the Romanian legend. In the Polish legend “Legend of Mount Ślęża”, the good heart of the villagers, who were repeatedly assaulted by the devils, make the angels punish the evil forces and save the humans.  

The Romanian legend deals with the tragic love and the determination of a young maid who resisted her parents’ urges to marry a man she had no feelings for. The legend belongs to a time when young girls had little chance to choose their husband to be and therefore they were sentenced to a loveless life. It is why young girls like the heroine of this legend remained in people’s memory because they set an example of courage and determination of not accepting the fate they were obliged to have. Moreover, the young girl showed no desire for the wealth she could obtain by marrying a rich man and preferred to take her life. The same tragic love caused by the interference of the girl’s parents occurs in the Bulgarian legend “Belogradchik Rocks”. What differentiates the latter from the Romanian legend is that the girl, Vita, did not kill herself but was turned into stone, together with her child.      

Female mythical creatures are not very present in legends, but when they do, they are unforgettable. The Romanian fairies, Iele, although mainly mischievous, have the talent to charm mortals through their singing and dancing. The purpose they have in doing this resides in the fact that they are very fond of their privacy and want to preserve it. Another reason why they charm mortals is that they use their artistic skills to punish the wrongdoers. In this respect, of using mesmerising songs, the Iele are similar to mermaids, as the one depicted in the Polish legend “Legend of Warsaw Mermaid”. Although the mermaid uses her melodious voice to trouble the fishermen, in the end, she protected them, after being rescued from a dangerous situation.

Powerful rulers remain in the memory of their peoples for strong traits of character: bravery, strong will, determination, vision, and sometimes cruelty. Vlad Tepes, the ruler who was wrongly depicted as a bloodthirsty vampire, was a defender of Christianity and a very just leader. His fame was so great, that the castle which is now visited by numerous tourists because it is allegedly considered to have been his residence, the Bran Castle, will forever be connected to his name. In this respect he is similar to three Lithuanian rulers, all three founders of two cities and a castle: Duke Kestutis, in “Legend about the establishment of Trakai Castle”, Kunas, Duke Palemonas’s son, in “Legend about Kaunas city foundation” and Grand Duke Gediminas, in “Legend about Vilnius city foundation”.