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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Oral Verse



Eufrozina of Janina

The maid Eufrozina, known in Greek as Euphrosyne or Kyrá Frosini, is the protagonist of a legend known to both the Albanians and Greeks of Çameria and Epirus. Eufrozina throws herself into Lake Janina (Ioannina) rather than give herself to Ali Pasha Tepelena. This version of the tale, in verse form, is taken from epic poem 'The Highland Lute' (Lahuta e Malcís) by Gjergj Fishta.


There are very many maidens
But like that maid from Janina,
Nowhere will you find her equal
Where the sun shines and the rain falls.
Eyes like sun, the moon her forehead,
Slender figure like the cypress,
Her mother called her Eufrozina,
Lucky omen for Albania.


"Ali Pasha" by Louis Dupré, 1821


Ali Pasha glimpsed her as she
Dove-like stepped upon the terrace
And the maiden pleased him greatly,
Off he sent the Moor to fetch her.
At her door the Moor commanded:
"Come down swiftly hither, maiden,
Come along now, for the pasha
Has requested you to visit."
"May your mouth be parched for speaking!"
Gave the maiden as her answer,
"I am but a simple maiden,
Don't know how to speak to pashas,
Not to mention Ali Pasha,
He might come and chop my head off
As he's chopped off many others,
I'll not renounce faith and honour."
Rage and anger filled the pasha,
Once again the Moor he summoned:
"Swarthy Moor, you listen to me,
Two times never speaks a pasha,
Either have that maid tonight here
Or with frogs I'll have you sleeping
At the bottom of the lake, you
Dog you, do you understand me?"
That night he went to the maiden,
Seized her, brought her to the lakeside,
Where a wooden raft was waiting,
There to bear her o'er the water.
After rowing to the middle
Of the lake, the Moor addressed her,
All the while the raft was floating,
Spoke now to the maiden, saying:
"There's no way out for you, maiden,
I'm no man to mince my words, so
Either go now to the pasha,
Or I'll drown you in the water."
To him spoke the maiden smiling,
"Yes, I'll go now to the pasha,
But I need my bridal garments
For I've made no preparations,"
To the Moor she thus responded,
To that dog, son of a dog, and
Rising, plunged into the water,
Sank and vanished to the bottom.
Word then spread across the country
That Albania has such maidens
Who, defending faith and honour,
Sacrifice their young existence.


[excerpt from: Gjergj Fishta, The Highland Lute (Lahuta e Malcís), Canto 16: 524-579. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]