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Thread: House-elves in Italy

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    House-elves in Italy

    Part of one of my fics is set in Italy.

    The hero is reasonably wealthy and in UK his family have house-elves. However, I'm wondering if there's an Italian eqivalent to an 'elf' which is a British type of mythical creature.

    Any ideas please share and of course I'll credit you.

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    I just had an idea.. If you take the more mythological idea of an elf as a creature of nature, like the elves in Midsummer-Night's Dream, for example, your best shot would probably be a nymph. Nymphs are, I think, usually assigned to a certain part of nature (water, land, woods, ...); they only feel "at home" in those places, and care for 'their' places (for example a spring etc).

    Maybe (though this is me talking here now, not much to do with fact anymore) wizards could have something like house-nymphs whose whole purpose in life is - similar to the house elves - keeping the house habitable and wonderful.

    You could make them different in some ways ... for example, the nymphs could have the very strong urge to keep everything clean, but they won't take just any orders. They don't actually accept the wizard as their master, but only listen to him because he is the one that "rules" the house... Am I making sense at all? I think nymphs were very strong willed in mythology. Maybe they'll keep everything spotlessly tidy, but won't go to pick up your groceries. And of course they'd be beautiful instead of small and bat-eared...


    EDIT: Thinking about all the things house-elves do besides cleaning... in that case maybe a really wealthy family would have several nymphs with different areas of expertise - for example, one nymph takes care of the house, while the other one cooks and takes care of guests/the children/...
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    Would the Italians have something different from House Elves to begin with? To me, House Elves seem to be common throughout the wizarding world (or at least the Western bit). And considering that these creatures can Apparate without a wand, I would imagine their species would be widespread.

    That said, I'm more interested to know what House Elf names would be like in Italian, how they would speak.

    Tim the Enchanter

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    Would the Italians have something different from House Elves to begin with? To me, House Elves seem to be common throughout the wizarding world (or at least the Western bit).
    The reason I asked this is because elves, gnomes and pixies are peculiar to Germanic North European folklore and not Roman/Italian/Greek. I want something that is more in keeping with Mediterranean mythology.

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    Carole.

    According to Hamilton's Mythology, this seemed like an option for your Italian creature/servant.

    Nymphs = Their attention span is too short and they would tend to focus on solely herbology (plants/ flowers) and not household chores. Plus, the size of those pixies? Personally, I don't see that working out.

    Options:

    Satyrs = the goat peoples who servd Dionysus (god of wine)

    Corybantes = dressed/ robed humaniods (god, really? ) who look like Cupid minature and follow the will of their god. For example, Aries (Mars) and Dionysus (wine god) use these to their pleasure and bidding. They are to follow any orders given by their gods/masters and they do a fine job (or die).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuri
    Nymphs = Their attention span is too short and they would tend to focus on solely herbology (plants/ flowers) and not household chores. Plus, the size of those pixies? Personally, I don't see that working out.
    Ooh but then it depends on what kind of nymph. A river-nymph cares more about the water than about plants, too. And then a house-nymph (which would, of course, be a new invention) would focus on the household.

    And I'm not sure there's a fixed size for nymphs either... When you look at paintings and mosaics from ancient Rome/Greece, they look human-sized (or god-sized, depending on the scene in the painting)...

    I'm not sure I'd go with Satyrs... As you say, they served the god of wine, and that's how they usually behave in stories too. They are associated with drink and sexual desire, and I'm not sure that would fit in every household... Though, I guess maybe you could have kind of a "domesticated" satyr version that stays sober and doesn't always want to party...
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    I have a feeling that elves are not the sort of creature that is unable to survive if they are not exposed to the English language. It does not seem complete impossible that there would be house-elves in Italy as well. There are Greek centaurs in Britain, after all, so we know magical creatures do move from their countries of origin.

    As for nymphs, occording to legend, they are rather free-spirited creatures, and I doubt they would submit to a life of servitude. In stories, we see elves doing all kinds of work for people, but nymphs are always off dancing and playing music in the woods. Somehow, I don't see them giving wizards footrubs and doing their laundry.

    It will be fun to come up with house-elf-y names in Italian, though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuri
    Corybantes = dressed/ robed humaniods (god, really? ) who look like Cupid minature and follow the will of their god. For example, Aries (Mars) and Dionysus (wine god) use these to their pleasure and bidding. They are to follow any orders given by their gods/masters and they do a fine job (or die).
    Thank you, I think that is exactly what I'm looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Olive Oil Med
    I have a feeling that elves are not the sort of creature that is unable to survive if they are not exposed to the English language. It does not seem complete impossible that there would be house-elves in Italy as well. There are Greek centaurs in Britain, after all, so we know magical creatures do move from their countries of origin.
    Yes, I have no doubt they could move around with their masters. And yes, I agree that Centaurs moved to Britain. However... (It seems that I must repeat this) I'm asking for an Italian/Roman mythalogical creature because I want to do something different. I don't want to write a house-elf.

    It will be fun to come up with house-elf-y names in Italian, though!
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim the Enchanter
    That said, I'm more interested to know what House Elf names would be like in Italian, how they would speak.
    Yes, perhaps another thread in the Reference Desk could be opened to help you with these.


    Mods, I have what I need. You may lock and grave this thread.

    Carole
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  9. #9
    Inverarity
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    I know you said you had what you need, but I just thought you might like this input, from someone I know who is actually Italian, and a HP fan:

    Incidentally, Elves (Elfi) are well known in Italy, whereas Nymphs are practically unknown in popular superstition. People must understand that Italy is not ancient Rome, much less ancient Greece! A great deal of Italian folklore is of Teutonic descent, although that should not be taken as a rule. Mainly, because of the whirlpool of different traditions that Italian culture history has been, you end up with quite original and very local matters. But a "house-elf" - elfo domestico - is perfectly appropriate, especially since domestico is a frequent expression for a house servant.
    Also, I really don't think Corybantes are what you're looking for, at least not if they're to have any resemblance at all to their mythological forms. They really aren't little cupids who'd be likely to do a mortal's bidding -- they're divine beings in their own right who attend upon gods, and tend to be involved in orgies and the like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    I know you said you had what you need, but I just thought you might like this input, from someone I know who is actually Italian, and a HP fan:

    "Incidentally, Elves (Elfi) are well known in Italy, whereas Nymphs are practically unknown in popular superstition. People must understand that Italy is not ancient Rome, much less ancient Greece! A great deal of Italian folklore is of Teutonic descent, although that should not be taken as a rule. Mainly, because of the whirlpool of different traditions that Italian culture history has been, you end up with quite original and very local matters. But a "house-elf" - elfo domestico - is perfectly appropriate, especially since domestico is a frequent expression for a house servant. "
    About the elves: Clearly though Carole is looking for something different here. Maybe it doesn't have to be the perfect logical explanation, but Italy is different from England in her story, and she wants to have different servants, too. I think that is perfectly legitimate, even if everyone can argue that Italians have heard of elves. We know what a leprechaun is here in Germany too, yet I'll always see them as something Irish. If Carole wanted a justification for how to bring Elves into her story, I think she would have started this thread a bit differently...

    Also, while Rowling did have centaurs in Britain, I think with the great mythology of southern Europe, and especially Italy/ancient Rome, it would be great to take something from there rather than have the same old house elves. It's so much more likely that wizards in other parts of the world have a different everyday life than that they are all the same everywhere because they can apparate...

    And I think in terms of magic society, we can take many little aspects of life/mythology in ancient Rome. Of course, modern day Italy isn't ancient Rome, but the culture does rub off, and even more so in a slow-moving society such as that of the wizards...
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