Since the end of the 19th century, the collections of Romanian folklore have also included the legends related to cosmogony. One of them refers to the Ladder of Life or the age of the living creatures of Earth. Following the creation of the world, God called all the living creatures to set their ages, 30 years for each of them, and to make known their destinies. Discontent was only the human, who considered his life too short as he was named the master of all creatures and meant to have a good life; on the contrary, the donkey, monkey and dog, knowing that a harsh life had been decided for them, asked God to take some years away. The human asked for himself, and was given, the years refused by the three creatures; however, only the first 30 years, which were set to him, would be happy, the others, as they were not intended for him, would be subject to hardships specific to the stages of life. The importance of this legend’s variant text recorded in 1980 in Stânceşti, a village located in the Northern Moldavia, is given by the peasant vision of the universe; God is depicted as a villager sitting on a chair in the house porch, yet He takes every decision within the house. This fact is not arbitrary if we take into consideration the example of marriage in the Greco-Roman world, whose most important sequence of the nuptial ceremony had to be held in front of the fireplace, under the protection of the house deity, a ritual that has been perpetuated in Romanian foklore, in certain forms, until the 20th century.
Keywords: cosmogonic legends, Romanian folklore, human’s ages, the peasant vision of the universe.
Cuvinte-cheie: legende cosmogonice, folclor românesc, vârstele omului, viziunea ţărănească asupra universului.