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The Tale of the Eagle

The Tale of the Eagle is an Albanian folk tale that illustrates how Albania and Albanians received their name.

A youth was hunting in the mountains. An eagle flying above him set down on top of a crag. The eagle was especially large and had in its beak a snake. After a while, the eagle flew away from the crag where it had its nest. The youth then climbed to the top of the crag where he saw, in the nest, an eaglet playing with the dead snake. But the snake wasn't really dead! Suddenly it stirred, revealed its fangs and was ready to pierce the eaglet with its deadly venom. Quickly, the youth took out his bow and arrow and killed the snake. Then he took the eaglet and started for his home. Suddenly the youth heard above him the loud whirring sound of the large eagle's wings.

"Why do you kidnap my child?" cried out the eagle.

"The child is mine because I saved it from the snake which you didn't kill," answered the youth.

"Give me back my child, and I will give you as a reward the sharpness of my eyes and the powerful strength of my wings. You will become invincible, and you will be called by my name!"

Thus the youth handed over the eaglet. After the eaglet grew, it would always fly above the head of the youth, now a full-grown man, who, with his bow and arrows, killed many wild beasts of the forest, and who, with his sword, slew many enemies of the land. During all of these feats, the eagle faithfully watched over and guided him.

Amazed by the valiant hunter's deeds, the people of the land elected him king and called him Shqiptar which is to say Son of the Eagle (shqipe or shqiponj is Albanian for eagle) and his kingdom became known as "Shqipria" or Land of the Eagles.

The eagle with the snake is a widespread motif of myth. It appears independently in Babylonian mythology and in the coat-of-arms and flag of Mexico.

See also Totemism


This article contains information from and it is used with permission. Translated into English from Albanian by Fehime Pipa and Van Christo.