The Thief and His Master

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"The Thief and His Master" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in Grimm's Fairy Tales as tale number 68.[1]

It is Aarne–Thompson type 325, The Magician and His Pupil,[2] containing a transformation chase. Others of this type include Farmer Weathersky and Master and Pupil. This tale type is well known in India and Europe and notably stable in form.[3] A literary variant is Maestro Lattantio and His Apprentice Dionigi.[4]


A man apprenticed his son to a master-thief, who said he should pay nothing for the education, but if he could not recognize him, then he would have to pay. When he returned after a year, a dwarf advised him to bring bread, and that the little bird peeping from the basket he finds there is his son. By this means, he gets his son back.

The son changes himself to a dog, his father sells him, and the son escapes. The son then changed himself to a horse, warning his father not to sell him with the bridle, his father sells him to the master-thief without taking off the bridle. When the master-thief stables him, he asks the maid to take off the bridle, and she is so surprised that he talks that she does so. The son and the master-thief interchange a transformation chase — first sparrows, then fish — with throwing lots, and the son ends it by turning into a fox when the master is a cock, and biting its head off.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, Household Tales, "The Thief and His Master"
  2. ^ D.L. Ashliman, "The Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales (Grimms' Fairy Tales)"
  3. ^ Stith Thompson, The Folktale, p 69, University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles London, 1977
  4. ^ Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p 347, ISBN 0-393-97636-X