Mind control in days of yore

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun May 18 20:32:29 EDT 2003

In <005601c31bf0$174b7cf0$393486d9 at CharliePC>, Charles Butler wrote:
>> Taming of the Shrew? :-)  Seriously, are you looking for examples in
>> children's books pre-Mesmer, or any literature?
>I'm looking for any pre-nineteenth century examples (not necessarily
>children's lit) where one person uses some kind of power (whether it be
>magic, drugs, or whatever) in such as way as to gain complete control over
>another person (including their will, perception, memory, bodily control,
>etc), either permanently or temporarily. 

Would the Prince in the Norse tale of the girl who drips candle-wax on
his shirt when she has a look at him in the night, and so loses him,
count as mind-controlled?  'East of the Sun and West of the Moon', may
be the title, in Sir George Dasent's *Tales from the Norse*, but it's a
standard story in which the girl breaks trust, and then has to do seven
or eleven or however many inpossible things before breakfast until she
ends up at his castle *just* before he's about to marry someone else,
her having broken trust gave his mother the chance to take over his mind
and marry him off to the bride of Ma's choice and he has completely
forgotten his Own True Love....

Sorry, it's late at night and I may not be making much sense in the
telling of the story, but that variation of the Cupid-and-Psyche
thing generally has him not knowing his own mind, because his mother has
him in her control.  And isn't it part of the Ring Cycle too, the chap
who forgets his girl completely and marries the wrong one, or nearly

Seems like mind-control to me, but I have no idea when the earliest was
that these 'folk-tales' got written down.

And what about the Sirens, and mermaids generally, whose singing
completely hypnotised sailors into sailing onto the rocks?  That goes
back to Homer, whoever he was.

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