Iele (or ielele, with a definite article) is the name of the “evil fairies” (zânele rele) of the Romanian mythology. They are mentioned in old Romanian folktales and legends and they have been a constant source of inspiration for many Romanian writers, who transformed them into literary characters in their works.1 Also, they have been a controversial subject of many folkloric studies, whose authors have tried to explain the origin and meaning of these supernatural female creatures. The present author aims to discuss the most significant (however divergent) opinions about the Romanian iele and to point out similarities with Germanic (and possibly Celtic) traditions, in which special categories of fairies have functions and names that resemble those of the Romanian iele. Under such circumstances, the idea of a probable Old Germanic origin of the Romanian term iele should not be regarded as out-of-place.
Dr Andrea Bargan is Lecturer of English and German Studies and Linguistics. Her work focuses mainly on text linguistics and on cultural studies.