Rapunzel is another classic fairy tale which was a little dusty until Disney ‘rediscovered’ it. If we take some time to explore its variants, we found it was pretty improper for children by today’s standard. Here we can enjoy John Barton Gruelle’s vision from Grimm’s Fairy Tales:
And, as you can expect, I found some more interesting facts.
1. We can track back Rapunzel into the 10th century to Persian tale Rudaba, where the title character helped her lover Zal climbing up to her bedroom by letting her hair down.
2. In the 17th century, Giambattista Basile and about half a century later Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force wrote their versions of Rapunzel which were much more similar to now as original considered Grimm’s. Instead of rampion (Campanula rapunculus), the magic herb parsley (Petroselinum crispum) was used. So the names of the stories were Petrosinella and Persinette. Petrosinella has also another symbolic meaning because petra in Latin means rock or stone.
3. Another important change from Grimm’s was the moment where the witch found out about Rapunzel’s visits. In Mademoiselle de la Force’s version, Rapunzel (Persinette) asked her why the clothes suddenly became so tight. She was expecting a child (twins!), of course…
Origin of Rapunzel probably dates back to the 3rd century in the area of today’s Turkey when a legend of Saint Barbara originated. Barbara was supposedly a beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who locked her in a tower to separate her from outside world (especially boys). Well, instead of lover she found religion and became Christian what was illegal. She was tortured and later condemned to death. Her father himself beheaded her! Do you recognize tower, possessiveness, and cutting (all right, head later became hair) from today’s Rapunzel?
Saint Barbara is among others a patron of artillerymen and firefighters.
I bet you didn’t know all that!