The Devil's Bridge.
October 31, 2002 1:15 PM   Subscribe

The Devil's Bridge. For Halloween, tales of bridges where the devil took a hand in the building: "If I help you, I'll have the soul of the first who crosses the bridge!" But the devil gets fooled... [more]
posted by languagehat (9 comments total)
In the Balkans, on the other hand, the builder has to sacrifice his wife to make the bridge stand firm; the most famous is the Bridge of Arta in Greece, but there are similar stories all over. A rarity is the pont d'Avignon, whose story involves neither death nor devil, just a miracle to help the shepherd B√©nezet. Of course, some of the old bridges most recently in the news are in the former Yugoslavia; there's the Bridge on the Drina at Visegrad, about which Ivo Andric wrote a great novel and where terrible things happened during the war; finally, there's the bridge at Mostar, which was destroyed in one of the many depressing episodes of the recent war but is now being rebuilt—by a very determined guy.
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on October 31, 2002

Great post! Interesting how tropes like this are found everywhere; What is it about crossing water that brings out tales of hubris? Daedalus and Icharus were flying over water when Icharus flew too close to Mr. Sun. Then there's that James Cameron movie about that boat... what was it called?

I've been to the bridge in Wales; it really wasn't too impressive as bridges go, but it was a fun day trip just the same. One wonders if someday the New World will have such a tale. I nominate Robert Moses and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
posted by condour75 at 1:31 PM on October 31, 2002

Awesome post, hat. Thanks!
posted by oissubke at 1:38 PM on October 31, 2002

I think the Devil needs to refine the terms of his contracts. I'm sure any lawyer would be willing to help him - for a fee.
posted by quadog at 1:55 PM on October 31, 2002

[this is good]
posted by fishfucker at 2:43 PM on October 31, 2002

And here was me thinking that the devil was cunning... It seems he fell for the same trick about 5 times...

Good post.
posted by dazed_one at 4:04 PM on October 31, 2002

Devil went down to Lake Galenbeck
He was looking for a soul to steal...
posted by Hildago at 4:34 PM on October 31, 2002

The devil was apparently pretty involved in bridge building in Wales too, among other activities, many involving bargains and compacts. This thread reminded me of a Devil's Bridge I had seen in Aberystwyth - a Google turned up this wonderful page of deviltry in Wales, including a few bridge tales. Great post languagehat!
posted by madamjujujive at 11:22 PM on October 31, 2002

Fascinating tales - all of them (& what a discovery -The Brahmar√Ękshas and the Hair, Breaking Wind: Legendary Farts, etc.). Thanks, languagehat.
posted by taratan at 2:27 AM on November 1, 2002

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