Jeremiah was a bullfrog

I’m researching a folktale called “The Child and the Snake” for my folklore class. A Google search will provide many versions, one of which is the Grimms’ #105. In this version of the tale, the snake is an “Unke,” which my German-English dictionary describes as follows: “1. (Zool.) orange-speckled toad (Bombinator); 2. (coll.) croaker, grumbler, prophet of evil, Jeremiah.” My question is: why? Why Jeremiah=frog? Any ideas? (Granted, this frog does look evil for a reason: it’s not food.) The information is inconsequential to the paper, but I would really like to know! I always thought that song was just nonsense.

** Addendum: Searching the German Wikipedia, I found that “unke” is another word for ring-snake… a harmless and dull-looking species. Why is a non-venomous snake associated with evil? What does this all have to do with the poisonous Bombinator igneus, a Biblical prophet, and Three Dog Night?

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3 Responses to Jeremiah was a bullfrog

  1. myshkin2 says:

    something about a prophesied plague of frogs from the ranting/raving OT prophet Jeremiah?

  2. Chris says:

    The song was written by Hoyt Axton, a country performer, songwriter, actor, etc. As I understand it, he was known for having a wacky sense of humor and a great ability to improvise lyrics and stories. The tale i read was that he had the tune for the song and his producer asked him to sing any old words just to make a quick demo. Out came those words, and there they remain. any biblical references may be coincidental, or are perhaps the workings of the collective unconscious.

  3. R says:

    Jeremiah, like jeremiad, prophet/prophecy of doom and misery. I don’t know why frogs would be involved…

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