Sun, Moon, and Talia

fairy tale by Giambattista Basile

"Sun, Moon, and Talia" (Italian: Sole, Luna, e Talia) is a fairy tale by Giambattista Basile. It was published in his Pentamerone (1636). It is similar to the "Sleeping Beauty" tales by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.


A great lord consults several wise men about the future of his newborn daughter Talia. They predict she will be put in danger from a splinter of flax. To protect his daughter, the father commands that no flax be brought into his house. Years later, Talia sees an old woman spinning flax on a spindle. She asks if she may try it. As soon as she begins to spin, a splinter of flax goes under her fingernail. She drops to the ground, and appears dead. Her father puts Talia in one of his country houses and abandons her.

Some time later, a king, hunting in the nearby woods, follows his falcon into the house. He finds Talia, and tries unsuccessfully to wake her up. He rapes her and returns to his own city. Still deep in sleep, Talia gives birth to twins (a boy and a girl). They are tended by fairies. One day, the boy begins to suck on Talia's finger and draws out the flax splinter. Talia awakens immediately. She names them "Sun" and "Moon" and lives with them in the house. The king returns and finds Talia is the mother of twins. He tells her what happened and they form a bond.

However, the king is married. His wife is suspicious and learns the truth. She gains possession of the two children. She orders the cook to prepare them for consumption. The cook spares the children and sends the queen a dish of lamb. The queen taunts the king while he eats. The queen has Talia brought to court. She commands that a huge fire be lit in the courtyard, and that Talia be thrown into the flames. Talia undresses and screams with grief. The king hears Talia's screams. He commands that his wife be thrown into the fire instead. The king and Talia marry.


  • Opie, Iona and Peter. 1974. The Classic Fairy Tales. Oxford UP. pp. 81-3.

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