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Sleeping Beauty – Giambattista Basile (aka The Sun, Moon and Talia


Fifth Diversion of the Fifth Day

There once lived a great lord who was blessed with the birth of a beautiful infant daughter, whom he named Talia. The lord sent for wise men and astrologers to foretell what fate had in store for his daughter, and after they had consulted together and cast her horoscope, they told the lord that Talia would be put in great danger by a splinter of flax. The lord then decreed that no flax or hemp, or anything of the kind, should be brought into the house; he thought that by doing so he could protect his daughter from her fate.

One day, after Talia had grown up into a beautiful young girl, she was looking out the window when she saw an old woman pass by, spinning on a spindle. Talia was so curious about the implement, having never seen one, that she called out to the old woman to stop and let her see it. Talia begged to be allowed to stretch the flax, but as soon as she did so, a splinter of flax went under her nail, and she dropped down dead. When the frightened old woman saw what had happened, she ran quickly out of the house.

When the unhappy father heard about this disastrous turn of events, he was devastated. He had Talia’s body laid out in her most beautiful clothes, and placed upon a brocade-covered dais. Unable to bear the thought of committing her body to the ground, he had the throne placed in a palatial room in one of his country estates, and then abandoned the estate forever.

After some time had passed, a king was one day hunting in the forest near the estate, and his falcon escaped from him and flew in the window of the palace. It would not return when he called for it, so the king sent a servant to knock at the palace door, intending to ask for the bird’s return. There was no answer at the door, and the house was locked fast, so the young king at last told his servants he himself would scale the wall and climb in at the window in order to retrieve the bird. So he climbed in and wandered the palace from room to room, but he found nothing and no one. At last he came to a large, beautiful drawing room, where he found an enchanting girl who seemed to be sleeping. He called to her, but she would not wake. As he looked at her, and tried to wake her, she seemed so incredibly lovely to him that he could not help desiring her, and he began to grow hot with lust. He gathered her in his arms and carried her to a bed, where he made love to her. Leaving her on the bed, he left the palace and returned to his own city, where pressing business for a long time made him think no more about the incident.

But Talia, who was not dead, but merely unconscious, had become pregnant, and after nine months she gave birth to twins, as beautiful a boy and girl as ever were born. Kindly fairies attended the birth, and put the babies to suck at their mother’s breast. One day, one of the infants, not being able to find the nipple, began to suck at his mother’s finger. He sucked with such force that he drew out the splinter of flax, and Talia awoke, just as if from a long sleep. When she saw the babies, she did not know what had happened or how they had come to her, but she embraced them with love, and nursed them until they were satisfied. She named the infants Sun and Moon. The kindly fairies continued to attend her, providing her with food and drink, which appeared as if delivered by unseen servants.

The king at last remembered Talia, and thought to himself that he would go again to the palace in the wood, to see if the lovely lady was still sleeping there. Saying he was going hunting, he journeyed to the place, and was overjoyed to find her awake, and with two charming little toddlers. He told Talia who he was, and what had happened, and how she had come to be a mother all unknowing. As they conversed, they both realized they were forming a stronger bond of friendship and love, and after a few days, when it came time for the young king to leave, he promised to return for her soon, and bring her to his kingdom. As he journeyed back, he found he was indeed desperately in love with Talia and his two children, and he could hardly sleep for thinking of them, and when he did sleep he called out their names in his dreams.

Now the young king already had a wife, who had become suspicious when he did not return for several days from the hunt, and hearing him call strange names in his sleep, she was overcome with anger and jealousy. She called the king’s secretary to her, and said, “You are between a rock and a hard place, young man. If you will betray your king, and tell me who his lover is, I will give you riches beyond your wildest dreams. But if you do not tell me, your life will be worth nothing, for I will have you killed.” The secretary was filled with fear, but in the end he valued his own life above honor, and he told her what the king had told him in confidence. The queen, once she had heard it, sent the secretary to Talia, with a supposed message from the king, saying, “Send the children to me now, for I miss them and want to see them.” Talia, overjoyed that her lover loved his children so much, obeyed the summons, and sent the little ones back with the young man.

The queen, hating the children even more when she saw how beautiful they were, took them to the kitchen and told the cook to kill them, and to prepare them as tasty dishes for the king’s supper. The cook was horrified at the suggestion, and though he agreed to it, he secretly took the children to his wife, and told her to hide them. Then he killed two newborn lambs and cooked them in a number of delicious ways. When the king came to the dinner table, the queen with great pleasure asked that the dishes be served to her husband, and when he ate with evident relish, her joy knew no bounds, and she kept pressing him to eat more, saying, “You are eating what is your own.” After she had said this several times, the king began to get annoyed with her, not knowing her insinuation, and he finally said angrily, “I know very well I am eating what is my own, because you brought nothing with you into this house!” And he got up and stormed out, staying for several days in a nearby villa to get over his anger.

The queen meanwhile dispatched the secretary to fetch Talia herself, sending along a false message from the king that he longed for her and could no longer bear to be parted from her. Talia obeyed with pleasure, and she herself felt a great longing to be with her lord, who was so loving and kind to her, but imagine her horror when she was brought to the queen, whose very face was burning with passionate hatred. The queen said to her, “Are you the whore who has been enjoying my husband? Get ready to be welcomed in hell, because you will soon be going there.” Talia tried to reason with her, telling her how it had come to pass that she had become the king’s lover, while she was asleep, but the queen merely laughed in desbelief, and commanded that a huge fire be lit in the palace courtyard, and that Talia be cast into it.

Talia, stalling for time, knelt before the queen, and asked as a last request that she be allowed to take off her rich garments before she was cast into the fire. The queen felt no pity for poor Talia, but she had noticed that Talia’s dress was very beautiful, and encrusted with jewels, so she agreed that Talia should be allowed to disrobe, thinking that she would keep the garments for herself afterward. Talia began very slowly to take off her clothes. As she removed each garment, she screamed, and tears rolled down her cheeks, thinking of the horrors she was about to endure, and with each garment, her screams grew louder and more heartrending. The king was just returning to the palace after his absence, and he heard the screaming. Following the sound, he came upon the queen and the weeping Talia, who had now removed all but her shift. He demanded an explanation, whereupon the queen reported that he had unknowingly eaten his own children, and that his mistress was about to be burned for a whore.

When the wretched king heard what had transpired, he was beside himself with grief, crying, “How could I have eaten my own sweet babes? Why didn’t my very veins cry out in recognition? You venomous, evil woman! How could you have done such a dreadful thing?” Saying this, he commanded that the queen herself should be cast into the fire that she had prepared for the innocent Talia, and his secretary with her, for his part in the wicked plot. The last to be burned was to be the cook, whom the king believed had willingly slaughtered his children, but when the cook was dragged forth, he protested, crying out, “Do not reward my faithfulness with this horrible punishment, Sire. I saved your children. They are not dead, for I hid them with my wife.” The joyful king replied, “If what you say is true, you will be rewarded as no man has ever been rewarded before.” The cook then called his wife to bring Sun and Moon to the king, who covered them with kisses and caresses; in fact, he could not get enough of kissing and embracing both the children and their mother, as he gathered them all into his arms. He gave the cook a rich reward, and made him a gentlemen. And of course he married Talia, who lived a long and happy life with her husband and children, always knowing full well that “The person who is favored by fortune has good luck even while sleeping.”

Full version of Giambattista Basile‘s Stories of the Penatamerone can also be found either at Project Gutenberg.


  1. Wow, what a story. I was inspired to find the original after seeing the trailer for Disney’s new film with Angelina Jolie, Maleficent, which traces the origin of Maleficent’s wickedness. The original story is bizarre and intriguing – even the moral is so peculiar. It seems to tlk of a life divine…of the purest fortune: luck that one is born with. But it is luck of a particular kind that is at odds with modern thinking (maybe?). I wonder if the author what the author meant by choosing Sun and Moon as the children’s names. Very intriguing…I want to find out more!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Mark.

    I hope Disney was not able to extend their copyright on our shared mythology via the new film.

    Fatalism is the worst mentality you can ever adopt. One must always struggle to the better, regardless of what seems to be your destiny.

    What changed Talia’s destiny was that she came up with an idea which played on the avarice of the first queen (obtaining her jewel encrusted garments) and used that to scream for her life.

    What changed the cook’s destiny is that he did not blindly do what the queen and secretary told him to do but followed his own sense of conscience.

    Basile’s Sleeping Beauty is one heck of a story. I hadn’t read it lately. Would make a great film for adults.

  3. Luis Luis

    When was this Story written??

  4. Hi Luis,

    Giambattista Basile published his version Sun, Moon and Talia in 1634 in The Pentamerone. Charles Perrault’s The Sleeping Beauty was published in 1697. Both probably existed in earlier folk tales. These are just formal literary renderings. There’s little new under the sun, even the ancient Hebrews knew that (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

  5. Aveen Aveen

    Such a sweet sweet touching story…I am so happy that the story had such a happy ending. Love is so powerful.

  6. ghostwriter ghostwriter

    “He gathered her in his arms and carried her to a bed, where he made love to her”- no, he didn’t “make love to her.” He raped her.

  7. Aveen Singh Aveen Singh

    Hi, I totally misunderstood the story. But I re-read it and understand that its about rape. Thanking you. Many thanks Aveen

  8. Teresa Teresa

    When does Maleficent come into the story?

  9. S S

    I find the story interesting to say the least. Strange that we got disneys version from this, but I supose you can find a plot to a good movie even in the strangest places.

  10. Person Person

    “The person who is favored by fortune has good luck even while sleeping.”

    Um, no… she was sleep-raped… I wouldn’t call being raped by a king who then visited you for his whoring while married being good fortune.

  11. stechira stechira

    I love this sleeping beauty, it would make an awesome film ^_^

  12. john john

    it’s better than the disney version :)

  13. Kassie Kassie

    He was a scumbag who raped her despite already being married to someone else. I bet if his daughter grows up to surpass her mother in beauty, he will say the kids aren’t his so he can rape the girl and kill the mom. I hope she finds her dad And the dad says “heck no. You rapist pig I’m taking my daughter and her kids faaar away from you” and she leaves him.

  14. The real The real

    This story is about RAPE IDIOTS!!!! What is so sweet about that!!! This man raped and impregnated her then got her caught in some BULLSHIT!!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!! THIS STORY IS DISGUSTING!!

  15. I read this profound story and I interpreted the full story,its about a prince who undergoes a horrible life filled with rape,Stockholm syndrome and crying.

  16. Sos Sos

    The two women are the ultimate victims here. The problem is they made bad decisions. Talia was sleep-raped. Not even regular sleep, deep-kinda-like-dead sleep. And the wife, she was cheated on by the man she married. The King would have been the only baddy of the story. But then Talia chose to form a bond/relationship with him. Like, how stupid is she? This man had sex with you while you were unconscious, does that not make you question his morals? I wouldn’t say she’s bad, she’s probably just not very smart. And then the wife… I could understand the hurting the other woman part. But the kids too? This woman’s anger blinded her judgment.

    So yes, I have very mixed feelings. I mean, sure, the family ended up together and now they can start their happily ever after. But does the end justify the means in this situation?

  17. Hi Sos,

    I really like your practical contemporary analysis. On the other hand, the king showed very bad taste in women. I suppose at the time, the conventions of leaving the queen in her post and taking a concubine was the simplest way to deal with a dead relationship. Remember that divorce was not available back then.

  18. Victros Victros

    SoS – remember that the two women are merely fictional characters written by a male generations ago.

  19. The The

    This left me speechless…….

    “When she saw the babies, she did not know what had happened or how they had come to her, but she embraced them with love, and nursed them until they were satisfied.”

    Wasn’t Talia freaked out? She LITERALLY JUST WOKE UP with children……

  20. Hannah Hannah

    How even old is the word whore?

  21. Remington Remington

    Well, um hello…. RAPE… also…just reading the comments…

  22. dhhgh dhhgh

    Obviously, a MAN wrote this story.

  23. Ama Ama

    Did anyone else follow the link to Gutenburg? There is no wife, and no sleep-rape in that version. He admires her, and then leaves. Too random kids wander in, and wake her, he come back, and his stepmother finds out about it and tries to kill them.

    This version is a re-write designed to make the prince super creepy for some reason.

  24. Magic Man Magic Man


  25. Jenny Jenny

    I guess its difficult for us to grasp how very different life was 400 years ago. Throughout history there is evidence of kings having bastard children and rape, it wasnt questioned. Its very hard to decipher the true meaning to this fable. I hardly think its meant to be believed on face value,if one does I rather think the point will be completely misunderstood it is a fairy tale after all.

  26. Lan'e Lan'e

    Where can I go to purchase this version ?

  27. […] In Basile's version, a king chances upon the sleeping Talia in her castle and “overcome by hot lust” makes love to her, then leaves the castle and promptly forgets all about her for a while. When he returns, he finds that Talia has given birth to twins, named Sun and Moon. The story doesn't just talk about what is in effect non-consensual sex, there's also attempted cannibalism. When the king’s wife (yes he's also married) finds out about Talia and her children, she plots to have Sun and Moon killed, cooked in a variety of dishes and served to her husband as revenge (you can breathe easy — her plans are foiled). […]

  28. Lexva Lexva

    I became interested of Giambattista Basile rendering of this fable after having seen ‘Tale of Tales’ which I mistakenly believed were the earliest forms of fairy tales. They are not , they are more like nightmare or horror tales Similarly here what happens to Sleeping Beauty being raped while unconscious (a similar case in USA that happened this year in a University Campus caused a justifiable uproar and imprisonment), in the 17th century there were different morals and this was seen almost divine. Remember at that time Kings were seen as being bestowed with earthly power by God having divine right that justified the king’s absolute authority in both political and spiritual matters. Moreover this parallels the story in the bible where Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. This is seen as a blessing. In similar vein, the rape mentioned in this story was seen actually as a blessing since it was performed by a king. Hence the words used making love.

  29. Ash Ash

    I think that he was trying to get himself killed. The 16th century was jacked up anyway because this story actually made more sense to them back then when there were no woman’s rights.

  30. Chantay Chantay

    So… Talia marries the scumbag… slowly poisons him to the edge of death, tricking him into passing her his power… then arranges a timely accident leaving him in doubt that his death is a result of his raping innocent young girls in their sleep… thus preventing her son’s daughter’s future molestation. She passes new laws that give women equality and makes a rape (regardless of gender) a death penalty offense with the added bonus of a humiliating statue to stand to their crime forever.. with a fair trial of course.. and rules a prosperous kingdom into her old age when she steps down, passing rule jointly to her son and daughter creating a rich tradition of gender balanced rule. Over time the kingdom reaches a balance in its populace that allows every person to excel based on their merits rather than any gender, or race etc. The king goes down in history as a museum piece dedicated to ending rape, molestation, pedophilia etc regardless of who commited the crime!

  31. Oh no Oh no

    I feel really disturbed…There’s so much going on behind the scene and so little being revealed. It’s almost like the fairy tales meant to foreshadow our current world.

  32. Meda Costas Meda Costas

    “The person who is favored by fortune has good luck even while sleeping.” Now that’s an artistic rephrasing for “he raped her in her sleep”.

  33. Disgusting Disgusting

    “He told Talia who he was, and what had happened, and how she had come to be a mother all unknowing. As they conversed, they both realized they were forming a stronger bond of friendship and love”

    Just LOL.

    King: “oh hey, you’re awake! Cool! So, you’re probably wondering why your genitals are all beat up and you have two screeching brats stuck to you. Well, funny story, I happened by, thought you were hot, and helped myself to your unconscious body! I know, right? I’m actually here now because I was feeling frisky and fancied another go. Isn’t that hilarious??”

    Talia:”Oh, thank you thank you thank you! I love you! MWAH!”

    This is so messed up. For real.

  34. Hunter Wiggins Hunter Wiggins

    Hunter Wiggins

    Sun, Moon, and Tahlia

    All four Sleeping Beauty stories have one thing in common, Sleeping Beauty always makes you so interested in the story no matter what.In Sun, Moon, and Talia, the story takes place in a country house. Talia gets raped by a king who finds her in the country house and she gives birth to two beautiful children named Sun and Moon.

    In that story it was very different, very unique to me, something i have never read before and not quite child friendly especially from the start. It is well written but like most fairy tales it is always “happy ever ending”.

    A deeper look into each fairy tale’s history reveals an original piece of writing that explores different life lessons to those perceived by modern society, often through gruesome and seemingly horrific tales.

    Fairy tales hold a unique magic because they are able to mature, to change, and to become key to each generation. In the time of the tales of the Grimm Brothers were created, people lived in fear of magic and witches.

    Fairy tales live in the minds from teller and from heares, growing and changing with each telling. The same tales told hundreds years ago still live in the minds of today.

    life lessons to those perceived by modern society, often through gruesome and seemingly horrific tales always refer back to the current world that you remember or relate to these old stories.

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