Mirela Roznoveanu







Ileana Simziana:  Queen Fairy Ileana the most beautiful of all
Reported at the very beginning of the XXth century by Petre Ispirescu



Translation from the Romanian by Mirela Roznoveanu




Once upon a time there was a powerful and Great King that had conquered all other kingdoms around him. All those defeated kings were forced to give him one of their sons to serve him for ten years. On the side of this great Kingdom, there was a smaller kingdom having also a brave King, who in his youth defended very well his kingdom. Getting old, he had no choice but to give it up, and the old king accepted to surrender his kingdom and himself to the Great King. Now, he had to fulfill the Great King’s wish but how? He did not have any boys, but only three girls.

His big worry was to allow the Great King to believe that he did not want to send his son to serve him, and to see his kingdom destroyed and his daughters and himself die in disgrace, poverty and shame.

One day, at the dinner table, the older princess dared to ask her father, the old King, why he was so upset and angry.

“Father,” the older princess said, “Why are you so upset? I am ready to give my life for you, please tell me the truth!”

“I am not upset with you, my dearest girl,” said the old King, “You have never disobeyed me or ignored my wishes; but you are all girls, and only a boy would help me to fulfill that mean King’s wishes. The Great King, to whom I surrendered my Kingdom, asked me for a son to serve him for ten years and I don’t have one. I have only you. All your lives, my dearest girls, you work with the knitting spindle, the needle, and the weaving loom. You are great in sewing, but you don’t know anything about fights, battles and war. Only a courageous, valiant brave man can help me now. He has to know how to spin the mace, how to use the sword, and ride the horse like a super brave warrior. I am too old now, and I can’t fight anymore in battles.”

The older princess asked her father to allow her to go to the Great King and serve him. She would disguise herself as a young brave man. She promised to her father she wouldn’t fail him. After deep thoughts and many doubts in his heart, the old King allowed her to do so.

Very happy, the older princess chose the best horse from the stables, the best, richest clothes that would fit a great and brave young man, and loaded food enough for a year. After her father saw her ready for departure, he gave her some parental advice as to how to behave, how to hide the fact that she was a girl, and everything she needed to know as a brave young man going to fulfill such an important mission. Then her father said:

“I am praying to God to be with you, my daughter, and always remember my advice. “

She left the court in great joy, as fast as a lightning on the sky. Just in a matter of a second no one could see her anymore.  Few nobles accompanied her as well as the loaded horses with food. They hardly could keep up with her fast ride.

In the meantime, the old King ran in hiding on a different path, to the other side of the kingdom. Without the princess knowledge he had built there a bridge of brass. He took the form of a ferocious wolf and hiding under the bridge, he was waiting for her. When the princess was ready to pass that bridge, suddenly the king in the form of the wolf stepped out, snapped his teeth in horror, looked right in her eyes with his eyes lighting like torches, and ran straight to her like wanting to tear her apart.

The girl felt her blood frozen in fear. The wolf could claw into her if the horse would not jump back; then, in a hurry she turned her horse around and returned back home. At the same way back, her father, was home already. He went out to greet his returning daughter, and he said:

Do you remember, my daughter, what I had said to you: that not all bees make honey? “ Which it was so true!

“It is true, Father, I didn’t know that in sending me to the Great King I would have to fight with wild and enraged beasts.”

“If you say so, « said the King, “then sit at home, take care of the knitting spindle and the needle, and the weaving loom, and God have mercy on me, I hope He will not let me die abashed.

After a while, the second princess asked the King to allow her to go to serve the Great King. After many delays, her father agreed and the same thing happened. And her father told her:

“Do you remember, my daughter, what I have told you that not every bird that flies is good on the dinner table?” The meaning was that not everything you see flying is as good as you believe.

Then the youngest girl asked her father the same thing, to go to serve the Great King. It took her a while to convince her father so much in distress for the failure of her sisters, but at the end she succeeded.

She started the preparations for her departure. She looked first at all the horses from the stables, but none of them was good enough for her despite the fact that they were the best in the all kingdom. One day, she ran into the horse of her father, from his youth battles. He looked sick, terrible, lying on his ribs. Pleasant as usual, she looked at him with pity and the horse suddenly talked to her:

“I am old and sick and weak, but if you give me the right food, I’ll be again what I used to be, in only ten days.”

She agreed. Every day the princess brought him what he asked for: whole water, barley cooked in sweet milk and a few pounds of burning charcoal. On the tenth day, the horse shook once forcefully, and he became again the greatest, magic horse he used to be.

“If you take me with you to serve the Great King,” said the horse, “you do not need anybody else. I will serve you as I served your father. The only one thing I ‘m asking you to do: you should always listen to my advice.”

She agreed again. Then, the princess said good bye to her father and sisters and she left the castle alone, just with the horse, a few nice clean cloths without any adornments, and little food. At the brass bridge her father appeared again disguised as a wolf, but this time, he was defeated. Then, the old King built much farther another bridge in silver and he appeared again in front of her, as a lion. Again he was defeated. The magic horse advised the princess how to fight and as usual she was listening. The King could not believe that his youngest daughter was so brave, so he tried her again. He put on her way a golden bridge, and appeared in front of her as a dragon with twelve heads.

The fight lasted about one hour. The horse told the princess how to fight and the dragon was defeated. Finally, the old King magically turned around three times… and the dragon became her father, who said to her:

“I have good hopes that you will finish this job, serving the Great King. Only remember my advice and listen to this horse. Comeback in good health! God be with you my child and from now on, only God will be your guide!”

She kissed her father’s right hand and before departing she said : « May God listen to your wishes, Father, good bye! »

She traveled over the mountains and all of a sudden she saw between two mountains two ogres that had fought for nine years and couldn’t win one another. The fight was for LIFE or DEATH. Upon seeing her, thinking that she was a thickset young brave man, one of them said:

« Prince Charming, help me to cut in pieces this enemy of mine, and if you ever needed me in the battle I am going to help you. “

And the other ogre said:

“Prince Charming, Prince Charming, help me against this enemy of mine and if you do so, I’ll give you the magic stallion without spleen, which is called the Yellow Sun.” It was known that the horses without spleen run faster, without any pain.

She turned towards the first ogre and with one stroke of her broadsword she cut him into two pieces! The ogre himself could not believe how brave the young man was. Then, she got the Yellow Sun stallion, the brother of her magic horse.

And she got hold of it after having to go through many hassles for the mother of the ogre, the ogress, and the ogre himself could not believe how brave the lad was. They were convinced, the ogre and the ogress, that it was a girl under those clothes and they tried hardly to discover the truth, but they couldn’t. And it was just normal for the ogress to doubt that our Princess was not a brave lad because her words were flowing from her mouth as honey, her complexion was so delicate, her hair long shoulder length was silky and her eyes were big, beautiful and lively; so much so to make anyone fall in love with her. Even the fingers were tiny like those of a fairy.

The ogress was sure that under those clothes of a brave man was hiding a beautiful girl; and the ogress, the mother of the ogre, wanted to have her as a wife to her son. However, our Princess listened to her magic horse and she proceeded always in such a way, that she was always able to deceive the tests of the ogress: she exchanged during the night the magic flowers that were supposed to bloom in her room with those of the ogre that were supposed to die; then, she pretended that she didn’t like the enchanted gardens, which would’ve proved she was a girl; and she chose the ugliest sword among the beautifully ornamented ones, showing that as man he didn’t like jewelry or beautiful things.

At this point, the magic horse asked our Princess to continue her journey with the Yellow Sun stallion, his younger brother, and to listen to him as she always did with him. She agreed. They ran, and ran, a long way, to the Great King kingdom and all of a sudden she saw in front of her a tress of golden hair. She stopped the horse and wondered whether she should take it, or leave it. The horse replied:

« If you will not take it, you will feel sorry; if you will take it, you will feel sorry too; it is much better to take it.”

And she did. They rode a very long way, days and nights, and passed other hills, mountains and valleys. They stretched out in the thick forests and green plains with flowers she had never seen before, springs with clear and cold water, and finally they arrived at the Great King’s court. The next day she presented herself to the Great King who was pleased, because it had arrived to his court such a handsome and charming prince. The Great King loved very much the replies he received from his questions and the wisdom and obedience of the young brave’s speech. Seeing such a mindful prince, the Great King fell deeply attached and took him beside him.

The old King’s daughter, our Princess disguised as a young man, was very good in deceiving the eyes of all other jealous princes. She could not get many friends among the other princes at the court, because they envied her for her wisdom and because the Great King kept her always in high regard.

One day, our Princess disguised herself as a gallant prince, sat at the table and ate alone, her own food, when two other princes came to pay a visit. She kindly invited them to join her and they did. After that, they went to the Great King saying that in their entire lives, they had never eaten such a good food. Then many other princes came to her dinner table and every day the old King’s daughter cooked delicious food, and threw great parties for the court princes.

Then these princes, the sons of so many other kings, went one day to the Great King and told him that the new prince that prepares such good food was boasting himself at a party; he said that he knew about the whereabouts of Ileana Simziana and he showed them a tress of Ileana Simziana’s golden hair. When the Great King heard such things, he ordered to call the prince and said:

“You knew about Ileana Simziana and you did not say anything to me, even though I showed you more love than to the others.” And after looking at the tress of golden hair of Ileana Simziana he said:

“I command you to fetch me the mistress of this tress, the Queen Fairy Ileana, the most beautiful of all; and if not, your head will end by your feet.”

Then our princess went to her magic horse and told him about what had happened.  The horse said:

“It’s all right, my princess. My brother told me last night that the mistress of the tress was taken away against her will by a giant ogre; she does not want to marry this ogre unless he will bring to her the herd of mares that she owns; that ogre is doing his best to fulfill her wish. The ogre had hidden Ileana Simziana in the middle of the marshlands.  You, my princess, have to go to the Great King and ask him to give you 20 sailing vessels, and also to give you money in order to take as cargo the most expensive and beautiful goods.”

And anything our princess asked for it was given to her. She embarked together with the Yellow Sun stallion on the best vessel and they traveled on the sea until they reached the land of the marshlands.

Going here and there our princess, while dressed and looking as a brave man and riding the Yellow Sun stallion, saw three palaces spinning around the sun; they were the ogre palaces where Ileana Simziana was locked up.

One day the stallion and our princess met with three of the ogre’s servants who were guarding Ileana Simziana. As they saw the pair of enchanted shoes our ‘traders’ were having among their goods, they got totally mesmerized; they asked them how they got there and our princess said that she is a trader who lost her way on the sea.

After listening what her servants told her, Ileana Simziana wanted to see with her eyes the enchanted shoes, so she went to the trader, who was waiting at the gate to show it to her; and after hearing about the trader’s ship loaded with expensive and beautiful merchandise, Ileana Simziana listened to the trader’s plea to go to see it on the ship; reaching the ship and choosing the goods, Ileana Simziana did not notice that the oarsman’s of the ship pushed it away from the land, and that the good wind towards the sailing vessel coming from God, the ship had run on the sea like an arrow. When she saw herself in the middle of the Great Sea, Ileana Simziana pretended she was sorry and blamed the trader that was wrong, but in her soul she begged God to help her get rid of the frightening ogre.

Hearing what had happened, the ogress, the mother of the ogre, went after them; and reaching the shore, the wicked ogress, like a giant lioness with a jaw in heaven, and one on the ground, sent to the ship from her mouth like an oven, flames and blazes. Ileana Simziana started crying, she knew that the ogress was after her.

Then the Yellow Sun stallion told our princess:

“Put your hand in my left ear, there is a tile of sandstone there, take it, and throw it back.”

And our princess did it and behind them appeared a mountain of rock touching the sky. But the ogress crossed the mountain.

Seeing Ileana Simziana that the wicked ogress was again close to them, she told that to the brave young man, our princess in disguise; again, our princess, after talking with the Yellow Sun stallion, removed from the horse’s right ear a brush and threw it back; and a great and thick forest appeared, so thick that even the cubs of ferocious beasts could not pass through it. But the mother of the ogre  had eaten away the trees, hooked up from branch to branch, leaped from peak to peak, slipped through the branches, and came after them, running as a whirling tornado.

And our princess asked again the Yellow Sun stallion what to do and he said to take the engagement ring with the ogre that is on the finger of Ileana Simziana and to throw it back. As our princess did this, the ring turned into a wall of flint up to the sky. The ogress blew fire again and again, but the fire did not go through the wall, and when she saw she could not seize them, she fell and cracked like an evil spirit; and Ileana Simziana and our princess disguised as a young brave man, on the other side of the wall, waited for the ogress to die; then our princess disguised as a young brave man put her finger into a hole of that wall – as the Yellow Sun stallion advised-, and the wall became again a ring on her finger.

Then they travelled to the court of the Great King. When they finally arrived there the Great King received Ileana Simziana, Queen Fairy the most beautiful of all, with great joy. Soon, he could no longer live without seeing her beautiful face, golden hair, great blue eyes, her gracious presence, and asked her to marry him.

Ileana Simziana, the most stunning and gorgeous queen in the world, was very sad in her heart.  She lost her Kingdom, being taken away by the ogre; she again got in the hands of an ugly and old man she did not desire. Her heart and her eyes were all for the handsome brave man who had help her escape from the hands of the ogre.

In order to escape his insistent requests, Ileana Simziana told one day the Great King:

« Enlightened King, Your Majesty, I will not marry you until you will bring me here my herd of mares and their stallion. Hearing this, the Great King immediately called for the daughter of the old King, our princess disguised as a brave man, and said:

« Go fetch me the herd of mares, with their stallion, for my lovely lady; and if not, your head will end by your feet.”

Very upset, our princess went to the Yellow Sun stallion to ask for advice. And the horse said:

“Go and seek nine tarred buffalo skins and put them tight around me. Do not fear, with God’s help, we’ll do together a good job.  The Great King burdened you with impossible tasks. You must know how bitter his life will be and only he is to blame after all, for his actions.”




She did what she was told to do. After a long way, they walked out onto the land where the mares were grazing. There they met the ogre who had stolen Ileana Simziana, wandering like a nut, not knowing what to do to bring the herd to her. Our princess as a brave man told the ogre that Ileana was no longer his, that his mother, the ogress, died, and that he was the one that took from him Ileana Simziana. After a terrible struggle, our princess beheaded the ogre.

Then, the Yellow Sun stallion, having on his skin attached those buffalo tarred skins, asked the princess to climb a tree and watch his fight with the stallion of the mares. It was a terrible battle. When the mare’s stallion bite into the Yellow Sun, he bites unto buffalo skins; when the Yellow Sun bites the mare’s stallion, he bites his real skin. The stallion was slashed, from top to bottom, and his bloody body had to declare himself defeated.

After leaving the herd in the Great King’s court, our princess as the brave young man walked out to notify him. Then from the castle emerged Ileana Simziana and she called each mare by name. And the mare’s stallion hearing her voice came out from the stables and shook and he took again his first magnificent appearance, without any signs of injuries to him.

Ileana Simziana asked the Great King to have someone milk the mares because she wanted to have a bath with him in that milk. But who could get closer to them? If no one could, the Great King ordered again the daughter of the King, our princess, to do it. And our princess started crying and asking God what to do and all of a sudden started to rain, and the rain was such that the water came to the knees of the mares. And once the water reached up to the knees of the mares, it got frozen and the mares could not move at all. Then our Princess was able to milk the mares.

The Great King insisted again to Ileana Simziana to get married and she asked him to bring her the holly baptism vessel which was hidden in a small church inside of a monastery nearby the Jordan River. When the Great King heard this he called again the King’s daughter, our princess disguised as a brave man, and ordered him to bring what Ileana Simziana commanded.

The Yellow Sun stallion and our princess arrived at the small monastery nearby the Jordan River. The magic horse told the princess what to do in order to seize the baptism vessel. She quietly jumped over the walls and tip toed to the door of the room in the church the vessel was in. Here at once she leaped like a light cat over the threshold, she even did not touch the nun sleeping there; and, putting her hand on the holly baptism vessel, emerged as she entered, mounted on the magic horse and left in a great hurry. Then the nun noticed what was happening and jumped up and upon realizing that the holly vessel was missing, began screaming and tearing down her cloths. Soon all the nuns of the monastery came together and start crying and screaming. There was complete pandemonium.




The hermit of that church saw that the King’s daughter, our princess disguised as a brave man, was running away on her magic horse with the baptism vessel. Kneeling, he said:

« God, Good Lord! Punish the villain who dared to put his hands on the holy vessel; let the scoundrel become a man, if it is a woman, and become a woman if it is a man.”

And once the hermit’s prayer was over, the King’s daughter, our princess, became a young brave man of such distinction, charm and great presence that from now on the entire world would look at him.

The Great King was very pleased receiving the baptism vessel.

“I am satisfied with the way you fulfilled all these jobs,” said the Great King; “I want you to know that after my death you will take the throne of this Great Kingdom, because I never had an heir. If God will give me a son, then you will be his right hand.” The entire court was present when the Great King said these words.




Disgusted that the Great King did not do anything for her, just asked the brave lad to fulfill her wishes, Ileana Simziana

ordered a heated bath; she wanted to take a bath in the mare’s milk together with the Great King. After entering into the bathroom, she commanded to bring her stallion to blow in cool air. And when the stallion came in, he blew with a nostril toward Ileana Simziana chilly air while with the other nostril toward the Great King blew hot air, that boiled him, and he dropped dead on the spot. Then Ileana Simziana told our Prince Charming, once a princess disguised as a brave young man that fulfilled all her wishes:




“You brought me here, you have brought me the herd, you killed the ogre who had took me away in the marshlands, you have brought the baptism vessel, then be my man; let’s marry. But before this let’s have a bath together.”




And the Prince Charming told her:

“I take you as my wife, if you choose me; but you have to know that in our home the rooster will lead, not the chicken.” That’s to say that the one that will be in charge with the crucial things of the Kingdom will be the King.

After the bath, the second day they got married. Then the Prince Charming ascended to the throne. The joyous festivities lasted three weeks, and everyone was glad that God gave them a good and brave King. And he had a great and prosperous reign. He was righteous and feared God, he protected the poor and did not oppress anybody, and perhaps he is still alive if he did not die in the meantime…



Illustrations: Alexandra Conte








Mirela Roznoveanu is a literary critic, writer, and journalist who has published novels, literary criticism, essays, and poetry. She was a noted dissident journalist during the turbulent period in Romania during the late eighties.

On the 10th of April 1947 Mirela Roznoveanu was born (birth name: Roznovschi) – literary critic and prose writer; after the refusal, in 1973, to attend the Communist Academy « Stefan Gheorghiu » she is fired in 1974 from the literary and cultural magazine « Tomis » in Constanta; in 1975 she moved to Bucharest where she intensely contributed on cultural issues with the Romanian Television, without being employed; between 1978 and 1989 she worked for the scientific and cultural magazine « Magazin », published by the newspaper « Romania Libera »; in April 1989, during the process of the journalists from the Bacanu Group, she is investigated by the Securitate and disciplinary moved as a  » health worker « ; her books and writing is banned; in December 1989 she is part of a group of journalists who takes over the newspaper « Romania libera » from the hands of the Communist government, making it the first independent and anti-communist newspaper in Romania :


In 1991, she moved to the U.S. where she has continued her writing career. She is a tenured, full time faculty member of the NYU School of Law where she is the Associate Curator: International and Foreign Law Librarian.

On December 2000, Mirela Roznoveanu was honored by outgoing President of Romania Emil Constantinescu, for exceptional contributions from abroad in the service of Romanian culture and democracy. Mirela has been named an Officer of the National Order for Faithful Service.

Her book The Civilization of the Novel: A History of Fiction Writing from Ramayana to Don Quixote received the 2008 Award of the Romanian Society of Comparative Literature and the 2008 Award of the Romanian Academy.


Personal home pagehttps://files.nyu.edu/mr24/public/index.html

Interview:  Mirela Roznoveanu’s Four Decades of Professional Writing:  A Dialog with Vladimir Wertsman for Multicultural Review:




Modern Readings, essays, Bucharest, Cartea Românească Publishing House, 1978

D.R.Popescu. Critical monograph, Bucharest, Albatros Publishing House, 1983

The Civilization of the Novel: A History of Fiction Writing from Ramayana to Don Quixote. An essay on comparative literature, Albatros Publishing House, vol.I -1983, Bucharest, Cartea Românească Publishing House vol. II – 1991

Always in Autumn, novel, Bucharest, Cartea Românească Publishing House, 1988

Life on the Run, novel, Bucharest, Sirius Publishing House, 1997; Apprehending the World, poetry, Bucharest, Luceafărul Foundation Publishing House, 1998

Platonia, novel, Bucharest, Cartea Românească Publishing House, 1999

The Time of the Chosen, novel, Bucharest, Univers Publishing House, 1999

Toward a Cyberlegal Culture, essays, New York, Transnational Publishers (2001, 2002)

Born again–in Exile, poetry, New York, iUniverse, 2004

The Life Manager and Other Stories, novellas, New York, iUniverse, 2004

The Poems and the Poet. A multimedia companion to Born Again — in Exile. Eastern Shore Productions, 2007;

Elegies from New York City, New York, Koja Press, 2008

The Civilization of the Novel: A History of Fiction Writing from Ramayana to Don Quixote. An essay on comparative literature,Cartex Publishing House,2008. 2nd edition

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