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The legend of Colapesce (or Pesce-Cola, i.e. "Fish-Nicholas") is recorded in late medieval Italian chronicles. It is a legend or folktale of the "diver recovers artefact" type, loosely related to Romance folklore of the Melusine family.

In the legend, a boy, Cola (Nicholas), insults his mother, who puts a curse on him forcing him to live in the water like a fish. He appears to fishermen and warns them of upcoming storms, and also informs them of the marvels found at the bottom of the sea. He is interviewed by emperor Frederick II. In order to test his abilities, the emperor drops a golden cup into the sea, asking Cola to retrieve it. Refusing at first, Cola finally attempts the dive and is never seen again.

The legend is set in Messina, and was recorded there by priests, and it spread to Barcelona when the Kingdom of Sicily was under the Crown of Aragon. It was first printed there, in a chapbook dated c. 1600. In this version, Pesce-Cola is a hybrid creature, half man, half fish.[1]


  1. Steinthal, Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft 17 (1887), p. 132.

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