The Tale of the Eagle

The Tale of the Eagle is an Albanian folk tale that explains how Albania and Albanians received their indigenous name.
A youth was hunting in the mountains. An eagle flying above him alighted on top of a crag. The eagle was especially large and had a snake in its beak. After a while, the eagle flew away from the crag where it had its nest. The youth then climbed to the top of the crag where he saw, in the nest, an eaglet playing with the dead snake. However, the snake was not dead. Suddenly it stirred, revealed its fangs and was ready to pierce the eaglet with its deadly venom. The youth quickly took out his bow and arrow and killed the snake. Then he took the eaglet and started for his home. Suddenly the youth heard above him the loud whir of the great eagle’s wings.”Why do you kidnap my child?” cried the eagle. “The child is mine because I saved it from the snake which you didn’t kill,” answered the youth.”Give me back my child, and I will give you as a reward the sharpness of my eyes and the powerful strength of my wings. You will become invincible, and you will be called by my name!”

Thus the youth handed over the eaglet. After the eaglet grew, it would always fly above the head of the youth, now a grown man, who with his bow and arrows killed many wild beasts of the forest and with his sword slew many enemies of the land. During all of these feats, the eagle faithfully watched over and guided him.
Amazed by the valiant hunter’s deeds, the people of the land elected him king and called him Shqipëtar, which is to say Son of the Eagle (shqipe or shqiponjë is Albanian for eagle) and his kingdom became known as “Shqipëria” or Land of the Eagles.


The double-headed eagle
The double-headed eagle is, in heraldry, the eagle with two heads separated from the neck and facing in two opposite directions. Generally it is placed in the head of gold, called head of the Empire. In fact, the double-headed eagle identifies the union of two empires.
The double-headed eagle was adopted as the imperial coat of arms for the first time by the Roman emperor Constantine I, called the Great, and then remained as a coat of arms in the Eastern Roman Empire until the last dynasty of Byzantine emperors: that of the Palaeologists. Today, the Greek Orthodox Church uses the double-headed eagle as a legacy of the Byzantines. The same coat of arms was later used by the Arsacids, king of Armenia, and later by the Habsburgs, emperors of Austria and king of Hungary, and by the Romanovs, tsars of all the Russias. Even the kings of Serbia, the princes of Montenegro, and the Albanian hero of the resistance against the Ottoman Turks, George Castriota Scanderbeg, adopted the double-headed eagle as an emblem. The bicep eagle was also adopted in the East, for the reign of Mysore in India. According to some authors a head represents the West and the other the East, in particular the two halves of the Byzantine Empire, one in Europe and one in Asia. In the arrangement of the heads there is the exception of the city of the river: The two heads are on the same side, both facing left (towards the right of the observer)

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