Eglė žalčių karalienė

  • Author
  • Country in which the text is set
  • Featured locations
    A village near the Baltic sea
  • Impact

    It is thought that this tale dates back to ancient times, and the way it is written suggests that it is a loose retelling of a Lithuanian myth. The tale has many versions and is well known in Lithuania and Latvia. The plot is about the marriage of a girl to a grass snake. The girl lived on the seashore and the snake dwelt in the sea. The grass snake was able to shift between human and snake forms. While married, the girl and the grass snake had four children, all human. But one day when Eglė and her children were visiting her parents, her brothers found out the true name of her husband, lured him out of the sea and slew him. As a consequence Eglė turned herself and her children into trees.

    The tale involves several different storylines, many mythological creatures and clear symbolism. It contains clear elements of theogonical myth, totemism and ritualism. The tale offers much material for research, and many articles and studies on Eglė the Queen of Grass Snakes have been published.

    The tale is widely used by artists. It has translated into literature, opera, ballet, drama, puppet theatre, sculpture, painting, graphics, etc. Even today it is still considered a rich source of material for interpretation and study. It is one of the most well-known and important Lithuanian folk tales. 

  • Balticness

    The tale does not specify a particular sea, but it is thought that the village in which the action is set is located near the Baltic Sea. This text combines elements of Indo-European mythology and Baltic myths and features important characteristics of Baltic region such as the natural environment, customs, myths concerning the origins of trees (fir, oak, asp, birch, ash), and symbols.

    Erika Drungyte

  • Bibliographic information

    Jonas Basanavičius. “Lietuviškos pasakos įvairios”. Chicago 1903–1905.

    Eglė žalčių karalienė : [lietuvių pasaka] / paveikslai K. Šimonio. 1924.

    Eglė žalčių karalienė: sudarė ir parengė Leonardas Sauka. 2007. T. 1. (all Lithuanian variants of this tale).

  • Translations
    Language Year Translator
    English 1974 Irina Zheleznova
    English 2006 Meilė Bungardaitė
    English 2007 Medeinė Tribinevičius
    Estonian 1974 Valvi Strikaitienė
    Finnish 1985 Anita Mitrošin
    German 1932 Victor Jungfer
    German 1973 Irene Brewing
    German 1974 Hilde Angarowa & Leoni Labas
    German 1978 Viktor Falkenhahn
    German 1981 Jochen Dieter Range
    German 2002 Rasa Krupavičiūtė
    German 2007 Edita & Hans-Ulrich Werner
    German 2009 Vytenė Muschick 
    Latvian 1966 Alfonsas Žukovskis
    Polish 1837 M. Jasiewicz
    Polish 1847 Józef Ignacy Kraszewski
    Russian 1854 Pavel Kukolnik
    Russian 1929 Theodor Zhuravin
    Russian 1953 Theodor Zhuravin & Zinaida Šišova
    Russian 1962 Svetlana Mar
    Swedish 1996 Irene Mårdh
  • Year of first publication
  • Place of first publication
    (in the almanac “Biruta”, in Polish)

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