Once again shhort post, I am not even blaming it on the thesis this time, because it is about my thesis.
In the past few weeks I have collected 23 versions of this folktale from many countries around the world: Italy, Sweden, Thailand, Korea, Iceland, USA, France, India, Mongolia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Ukraine and Russia - and I have no doubt that there is more of it hidden in story collections and folklore articles.
What really fascinating though, apart from the universal nature of this story, is the variety of superpowers that are featured in it. In my 23 versions I found 28 (!) different abilites, from overkill ones like "he can run as fast as lightning" and "he knows everything" down to weirdness like "he can pee a waterfall". I made a list of these, and also made a list of quests that need to be accomplished, from "rescue princess from evil sorcerer" to "defeat crickets that are as big as elephants".
What seems really interesting to me is that literature claims this story type is directly related to the myth of the Argonauts - a ship full of people with magical abilities with a useless leader going to get rich and ending up rescuing a princess. Pretty accurate if you ask me (yes, I don't like Jason, but then again I don't really like Medea either). Seems legit to me, especially because the story almost always features a magical flying ship.
It is also a great story to teach teamwork, and talk about finding ways to use your special talents effectively. I'll muse about it later.
Not I have to go watch Legend of Korra...
... I mean, continue working on my thesis.