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The Saga of Ihor's Folk, of Ihor, Son of Sviatoslav, Grandson of Oleh

I. Invocation

Say, brethren, has it not been fine for us to begin

with former words of hard war narratives

about Ihor's campaign*,

of Ihor Sviatoslavych1.

This song, however, needs to begin with

deeds of nowadays

and not according to Boyan's2 ideas.

If Boyan, the Oracle, wanted to make a song for


he spread like a squirrel in the tree,

or a grey wolf about the fields,

or a bluish eagle under the clouds.

He recalled the stories about apartness of old times,

and loosed ten falcons upon a flock of swans.

Which of them a falcon reached,

it was at first to sing a song to old Iaroslav3,

to bold Mstyslav4, who had killed Rededia in view of

Kasoh troops,

to handsome Roman Sviatoslavych5.

But Boyan, brethren, did not loose ten falcons

upon the flock of swans.

He laid his wise fingers upon the living strings,

and they themselves glorified the princes.

So, brethren, let us begin this story

from old Volodymyr6

to present Ihor,

who weighed the idea by his strength

and sharpened by courage of his heart.

Filled with war spirit,

he led his bold folks

against the Polovtsian land

for the Land of Rus'.

II. Solar eclipse is a sign of external danger for the Land of Rus'.
Sviatoslavyches are ready to defend it

Then Ihor looked up at the bright Sun

and saw that the darkness from it covered

all his warriors7

And Ihor said to them:

Brethren and warriors!

It is better to be cut than to be captured8.

So let us mount, brethren, our fast horses

and see the blue river Don.

Fired the Prince's mind on his beloved9,

and the pity concealed that sign from him.

To taste the Great Don I want, - he said, -

to break a spear at the frontier of the

Polovtsian field.

With you, Rusyches, want I to lay down my head

or to drink the Don with my helm.

Oh Boyan, the nightingale of ancient days!

How would you sing those troops,

skipping, nightingale, in the imaginary tree,

flowing like an eagle under the clouds,

twisting the glories of both halves of nowadays,

trotting on the pathway of Troyan'10 over

the fields to the mountains.

So, would you sing a song of Ihor, a grandson

of Oleh11:

No storm has swept the falcons over the wide fields -

there are flocks of daws racing towards the Great Don.

Or should it sing, oh Boyan the oracle, the

grandson of Veles12:

Horses neigh beyond the Sula -

Glory rings throughout Kyiv.

Horns blow in Novhorod -

banners stand in Putyvl.

Ihor waits for his dear brother Vsevolod13.

And that Fierce Bull Vsevolod says to him:

Oh brother, thou art the only bright light

for me, Ihor!

We are both Sviatoslavyches!

Thus saddle, brother, thy fast horses

as those of mine are ready saddled at Kurs'k ahead!

My kurians are skilful warriors.

They were swaddled under the horns,

brought up under the helms,

fed near the spears.

Pathways are known to them,

and they are aware of ravines.

Their bows are taut,

the quivers are open,

the sabres are sharpened.

They race like grey wolves about the fields

seeking honour for themselves

and glory for their prince.

III. Rusyches on the march. The first victorious battle

Then Ihor the Prince stepped in his golden stirrup

and rode through the open country.

The Sun barred his way with darkness.

The night, groaning to him with storm,

awoke birds

and drove the beasts together in the herds.

The Wonder calls from the top of the tree

and lets convey news to the Unknown Lands in the Luh14,

to the Sea-Shore Country, to the Sula banks,

to Surozh and Korsun',

and to thee, the Ruler of Tmutorokan'!15

So Polovtsi ran by untrodden ways to the great river Don!

Their carts squeak at midnight,

say, the swans are dismissed...

Ihor leads his troops towards the Don.

Already his misfortune gathers birds in oak-trees,

and wolves growl threats in ravines.

Eagles with scream call beasts to bones,

foxes bark at scarlet shields!

Oh Rusovan Land*, Thou art already behind the rampart!

Long the night fades away!

But at last the sunrise fired.

Mist covered the plains.

Nightingales' trills are gone.

Talking woke up daws.

Rusyches barred the wide fields with

their scarlet shields,

seeking honour for themselves

and glory for then- Prince.

At early dawn on Friday they trampled

the pagan Polovtsian troops.

Spreading like arrows over the field

they galloped polovtsian fair maidens,

as well as gold, brocades and precious

velvet with them.

With cloaks, capes and leather-coats they

began to pave the bridges

over the bogs and muddy places.

And all kinds of Polovtsian patterns -

the scarlet banner, the white gonfalon,

the scarlet standard, silver staff -

for the bold Sviatoslavych!

Sleeps Oleh's brave nest in the field -

far have they flown!

They were not born for offence -

neither for falcon, nor for gerfalcon, nor for thee,

black raven, pagan Polovtstan!

Gzak runs like a grey wolf,

Konchak16 lays a track for him to the Great Don,

IV. The second battle

Early on the second day ab loody dawn fortells the light

Black clouds come from the sea,

trying to hide the four suns

and there within them blue lightnings flicker.

Soon there will be mighty thundering!

And the rain of arrows will come from the Great Don!

Here spears will be broken.

Here sabres will crash against Polovtsian helms

on the river Kayala near the Great Don!

Oh Rusovan Land, Thou art not already the


The winds - Stryboh's17 grandsons - blow arrows from

the sea against Ihor's bold troops.

Earth rumbles.

Rivers muddily flow.

Dust covers the fields.

Banners tell that Polovtsi go from the Don and

from the sea

and from all sides encircled the troops of Rus'.

Devil's kids barred the fields with their cries.

And brave Rusyches blocked with their scarlet shields.

Fierce Bull Vsevolod!

Thou standest in the battle,

showerest arrows upon warriors,

clankest with hardy swords against their helms!

Where the Bull rushed,

gleaming by his golden helm,

there lie pagan Polovtsian heads,

hewn Avar helms by tempered sabres of thine,

Wild Bull Vsevolod!

He revenged for the wounds of dear brethren,

forgetting the honour and his life,

and his father's golden throne in Chernihiv,

and his dear wife's - fair daughter of Hlib18 -

manners and habits.

V. Remembrance of old times

There were ages of Troyan'.

There passed the years of Iaroslav.

There were Oleh's battles,

of Oleh Sviatoslavych.

That Oleh forged revolts with his swords

and sowed arrows on the earth.

He springs to the golden stirrup in the

city of Tmutorokan' -

and that very jangle was heard by great

Iaroslav's son Vsevolod19;

and every morn Volodymyr20 closed his ears in Chernihiv.

It was Borys Viacheslavych21

whom Glory led to the Court

and laid the green cloth on the Kanyn

for Oleh's offence,

brave and young prince.

From the same kayala Sviatopolk22,

getting the news,

took his dead father between Hungarian pacers

to Kyiv - to St. Sophia's Temple.

It was then at the times of Oleh Horyslavych

when properties of Dazhboh's23 grandson got parcelled

and sprouted by apartnesses and were lost.

And human lives became shortened through

the princes' revolts.

Then on the Land of Rus' the ploughmen rarely called,

but ravens often croaked,

dividing corpses,

and daws began their talking,

when wanted to fly on the food.

VI. D e f e a t

That was in old battles and in old campaigns,

but the battle like this one had never been seen.

From dawn to evening,

from evening to the light there fly sharp arrows,

sabres clank upon helms,

tempered spears shatter in the Unknown fields

amidst the Polovtsian soil.

The black ground under the hooves was sowed with bones

and poured with blood.

They sprouted by grief on the Land of Rus'.

What is noisy for me?

What rings me early before dawn?

Ihor is turning his troops -

he pities his dear brother Vsevolod.

They fought for one day and fought for another day.

But on the third day at noon Ihor's banners fell down.

Here brothers parted at the fast Kayala.

Here they lacked of the bloody wine.

Here the brave Rusyches finished their banquet:

they gave to drink to the match-makers

and laid the heads for the Land of Rus'.

The grass bowed down with pity.

And the trees with grief bent to the ground.

So, brethren, a sad time set in.

Already the desert covered the power.

So injury arose amidst Dazhboh's grandson,

came by misfortune to the Land of Troyan',

splashed by swan's wings near the blue sea

at the river Don

and thus awakened its abundant times.

The princes' properties on the pagan lands were lost.

Because brother said to brother:

This is mine and that is mine too.

And they began to call petty things great

and to forge plots against one another

just as pagans from all sides came with victories

over the Land of Rus'.

Oh, far did the falcon get on beating birds -

towards the sea!

But Ihor's brave troops can't rise again!

Grief and Sorrow screamed for them,

jumped over the Land of Rus',

carrying thirst to people in flaming horn.

Rusovan women wept and said:

Already shall we our dear beloved neither

in mind conceive,

nor in thought think, nor with our own eyes see.

And no more we shall wear silver and gold.

So, brethren, Kyiv groaned from the grief

and Chernihiv - from disaster.

And distress flowed over the Land of Rus'.

Great sorrow poured over the Rusovan Land.

Meanwhile princes themselves forged plots

against one another,

and pagans themselves victoriously invaded

the Land of Rus',

took as a tribute womenfolk from every home.

Those two brave Sviatoslavyches, Ihor and Vsevolod,

woke up the falsehood,

which was put to sleep by their father Sviatoslav,24

terrible, great ruler of Kyiv.

He looked like thunder and made pagans tremble with his

strong troops and steel swords.

He trod on the Polovtsian soil,

trampled hills and ravines,

stirred up rivers and lakes,

dried streams and bogs.

As in whirlwind he seized Kobiak-pagan

and pulled out from the sea shore,

from the great iron Polovtsian troops.

And Kobiak fell in the city of Kyiv,

in Sviatoslav's great hall.

Here the Germans and the Venedycheil25,

here the Greeks and the Moravians

sing the glory of Sviatoslav,

mourn over Prince Ihor,

who sank well-being in the Kayala,

a Polovtsian river,

scattered the Rusovan gold.

Then Prince Ihor changed his golden saddle

for that of a nomad.

It was the gloom in the cities

and the merriment faded.

VII. Sviatoslav's dream and its meaning

Sviatoslav saw a turbid dream in Kyiv on the Hills.

This night from eve I covered my head, - he said,

with a black shroud on bed of yew.

They poured me blue wine, mixed with sorrow,

strewed large pearls upon my breast

from empty quivers of pagan allies.

Already planks without spine pamper me in

my gold-roofed palace.

This night from eve grey crows had croaked by

Plisnes'k on the meadow in the Kysan' thickets26

and rushed to the blue sea.

Then the boyars replied to the Grand Duke:

Already, Duke, sorrow has seized the mind.

There were two falcons who flew from the

father's golden throne

to get the city of Tmutorokan'

or to drink the Don with their helms.

Already the falcons' wings were cut with

the sabres of pagans

who put them into the iron fetters.

Dark fell on the third day:

two suns dimmed,

the both purple columns died out

and two young moons with them as well...

Oleh and Sviatoslav were clouded with murk*.

On the Kayala the dark overwhelmed the light.

Polovtsi spread across the Land of Rus'

like a pack of leopards

and dipped people in plague,

and gave wild joy to Khynova.

Already Blame has eclipsed Glory.

Already Violence has pulled out at Freedom.

Already Wonder has fallen on the ground.

Now the Gothic fair maidens27 sing on the

shore of the blue sea.

They jingle with Rusovan gold and glorify

the times of Bus28,

nursing thoughts of revenge for Sharokan'29.

And we, your men-at-arms, lack of merriment.

VIII. Sviatoslav's appeal to princes

Then Sviatoslav the Great dropped the Golden Word

mixed with tears and said:

Oh, my sons Ihor and Vsevolod!

Early in your years you began to disturb the

Polovtsian land with your swords,

seeking glory for yourselves.

But you won a lot of enemies

and spilled much blood of them.

Your brave hearts are forged in hardy steel

and tempered in courage.

Have you done this for my silvery grey hair?

I don't already see the might of my brother Iaroslav30,

strong and rich in warriors.

Where is he with his Chernihovan boyars,

with Mohuts, and with Tatrans, and with Shelbirs,

and with Topchaks, and with Revuhas, and with Olbirs31?

Those overcome the enemies by battle cries without shields,

only with knives in the top of boots,

jangling in forfathers' glory.

But they said: We'll dare alone -

we 'll increase past glory

and share coming glory amongst ourselves.

But is it wonder, brethren, if the old

becomes a young one?

A mature falcon chases birds high -

he stands for his nest.

But the main evil is that the princes don't help me.

And now good times have turned to the injury.

There in Rymiv the people cry out under the Polovtsian


and Volodymyr is under wounds.

Grief and sorrow to Hlib's son.

Great prince Vsevolod32!

Not only in mind souldst thou fly from afar

to watch over thy father's golden throne!

Thou mayst splash the Volha with oars33

and with helms empty the Don34.

If thou wast, then Polovtsian slave girl

would go for a nohata

and Polovtsian male slave - for a rezana.

Thou mayst shoot upon the land with alive spears, -

with the daring sons of Hlib35.

You, bold Riuryk and Davyd38!

Are there not your gilt helms by which the

enemies swam through blood?

Are there not your bold warriors who roared like bulls,

when wounded by tempered sabres in the Unknown field?

Step, lords, in golden stirrups for wrongs of our time,

for the Land of Rus',

for Ihor's wounds,

bold Sviatoslavych!

Halychian eight-sensed Iaroslav37!

Thou sittest high on thy gold-forged throne,

propping the Hungarian mountains with thy iron troops,

blocking the pathway to the King,

locking gate upon the Danube,

throwing burdens over the clouds,

administering justice as far as the Danube.

Thy thunders spread upon the lands.

Thou openest the gates for Kyiv,

shootest from your father's golden throne

at sultans beyond lands.

Shoot, lord, at Konchak, the pagan slave,

for the Land of Rus',

for Ihor's wounds,

bold Sviatoslavych!

And you, brave Roman and Mstyslav38!

Daring thought bears your mind to deed.

High you soar to deed in your courage

like a falcon which spreads on the wind

wishing to conquer a bird in the violence.

You have iron warriors from maritime country39

under Latin helms.

They cracked the earth and many lands -

Khynova, Lithuanians, Iatviazians, Deremela and Polovtsi -

threw their short spears

and bowed their heads beneath those tempered swords40.

But now, prince, the light dimmed for Ihor in the Sun

and a tree dropped leaves not for the good:

towns on the Ros' and on the Sula were shared41.

But Ihor's brave troops can't rise again!

The Don appeals to thee, prince, and invite

princes to victory.

Olehovyches, brave princes, are ready to fight.

Inhvar and Vsevolod

and those three Mstyslavyches42,

six-winged of no bad nest!

Don't you spread your lands by victorious lot?

Where are your golden helms and Polish short

spears and shields?

Block the gates to the Field with your keen arrows

for the Land of Rus',

for Ihor's wounds,

bold Sviatoslavych!

Already the Sula no longer flows in silver streams

to the city of Pereyaslav.

And the Dvina flows in dirty streams to those terrible

Polochans under pagans' screams.

Single Iziaslav, Vasyl'ko's son43,

clanged his swords upon Lithuanian helms,

frayed the glory of his grandfather Vseslav

and lay beneath red shields on the bloody grass,

cut down by Lithuanian swords.

He laid the glory on Ms death bed and said:

Thy warriors, prince, were covered by the birds' wings

and beasts licked the blood.

There were no brothers there -

neither Briachyslav nor the other Vsevolod.

Alone he lost the pearl of his soul from

the brave body

through the collar of gold.

The voices were sad

and merriment dropped.

Horns blow in Horodno.

Iaroslav44 and all Vseslav's grandsons45!

Already lower your banners,

sheathe your damaged swords.

You have already sprung from forefathers' glory.

By your revolts you began to bring pagans into

the Rusovan Land,

into Vseslav's domain,

which was also exposed to attack from the

Polovtsian land.

During the seventh century of Troyan' Vseslav46

cast lots for the maiden he desired.

With cunning he propped on the spear and jumped

to the city of Kyiv,

and with the staff touched the Kyivan golden throne47.

Then he jumped from them like a fierce beast at

midnight from Bilhorod

under the cover of blue mist.

And in the morn he raised the Trident,48

opened the gates of Novhorod,

broke the glory of Iaroslav,

jumped like a wolf with the loot to the Nemyha.

On the Nemyha they lay sheaves of heads,

thrash with tempered flails,

lay down lives on that threshing floor,

winnow souls from bodies.

The Nemyha's bloody banks were sown not with the good,

but with bones of sons of Rus'.

Vseslav the prince judged people,

gave towns to the princes.

But he himself scoured like a wolf at night.

From Kyiv he scoured till dawn to Tmutorokan',

crossed the pathway of the Great Khors49.

For him in Polots'k early matins rang on

SI.Sophia's bells

and he heard them in Kyiv.

Though the soul is prophetic in another body

still often misfortune fell upon him.

Once Boyan the Oracle told these clever words to him:

Neither the wise, nor the rich, nor a care-free bird

can ever escape God's Judgement.

Oh, to moan is that for the Land of Rus'

when recalling old times and former princes!

That old Volodymyr50 could not be nailed to Kyivan hills.

And now his banners belong to Riuryk and others -

to Davyd.

But bearing the horns, they only wave the tails...

IX. Iaroslavna's lament

Say, to whom is anyone singing at the Danube?

That is Iaroslavna's51 lonely voice to be heard.

Like a seagull in the early morn she calls:

I shall fly, she says, like a seagull along the Danube

and wet my silk sleeve in the river Kayala,

and wipe Prince's bloody wounds on his mighty body.

Iaroslavna weeps early in Putyvl' on the wall saying:

Oh Wind, High Wind!

Why, Lord, dost Thou blow so fiercely!

Why dost Thou carry Khynova's arrows on your tireless

wings against the warriors of my beloved?

Hast Thou had few hills to blow under the clouds,

to loll the ships to the blue sea?

Why, Lord, hast Thou scattered my joy over the


Iaroslavna weeps early in the town of Putyvl'

on the wall saying:

Oh Dnieper-Slovutych!

Thou didst bore stone mountains through

the Polovtsian land.

Thou didst loll on Thyself Sviatoslav's boats to

Kobiak's troops.

So loll, Lord, my beloved to me,

in order I send no tears early to the sea.

Iaroslavna weeps at dawn in Putyvl' on the wall and says:

Bright and thrice-bright Sun!

To all Thou art warm and beautiful.

Why, Lord, hast Thou spread Thy burning rays

upon the warriors of my beloved?

In the waterless field Thou hast parched their bows

with thirst

and with grief hast closed their quivers.

X. Ihor's escape

The sea was sleepy.

The winds rush through the mist to the North -

God shows to Ihor the way

from the Polovtsian land to the Rusovan land,

to his father's golden throne.

The sunset faded.

Does Ihor sleep?

Ihor does not sleep.

Ihor in mind crosses the fields from the Great Don

to the small Donets'.

At midnight Ovlur52 whistled horses beyond the river;

and called the Prince;

it was time for Prince Ihor to run away.

The earth called and rumbled.

The grass rustled.

The Polovtsian tents began to move.

And Prince Ihor raced to reeds like a stoat.

like a white duck - on the water.

He leapt to his fast horse

and sprang from it like a grey wolf,

and sped towards the meadow of the river Donets'

and flew like a falcon under the mist

killing geese and swans for lunch, for dinner

and for supper.

When Ihor flew like a falcon,

then Ovlur raced like a wolf,

shaking off by himself the chilling dew -

they exhausted their fast horses.

The Donets' said: Prince Ihor!

There is no small glory for thee,

and dislike for Konchak,

and merriment for the Rusovan land.

Ihor said: Oh Donets'! There is no small glory for Thee

because Thou didst loll the Prince on Thy waves,

spread green grass for him on Thy silver shores,

cover him with warm mist in the shadow of green trees,

watch over him with drakes on the water, seagulls

on the streams, black ducks in the winds.

Didn't he say so?

The river Stuhna has a weak stream,

but swallowed up other brooks

and turned the boats into the coffins,

and shut for prince Rostyslav53 bright days

on its bottom near the dark bank.

Rostyslav's mother mourned the young prince Rostyslav.

Flowers withered from sorrow

and trees with grief bent to the ground.

XI. Gzak and Konchak pursue Ihor

There no magpies began to chatter -

there were Gzak and Konchak on Ihor's th.

Then the crows did not croak,

the daws became silent,

the magpies did not chatter,

crawled in the rods.

Only -

the woodpeckers show the way to the river

with their knocks,

the nightingales announce the dawn with

their gay songs.

Gzak says to Konchak:

If the falcon flies to the nest,

we will shoot at the falconet54 with

our gilt arrows.

Konchak replied to Gzak:

If the falcon flies to the nest,

we will enmesh the falconet with the charms

of the fair maiden.

And Gzak says to Konchak:

If we enmesh him with the charms of the fair maiden,

we will have neither the falconet, nor the fair maiden,

and the birds will start to peck us

in the Polovtsian field.

XII. Apotheosis to Ihor, people's hero

Spoke Boyan and Khodyna - Sviatoslav's bards

of ancient Iaroslav's time - to Oleh:

Kohan! It is difficult for thy head to be

without shoulders.

But it is also the misfortune for thy body to be

without the head55.

And just the same for the Rusovan land

to be without Ihor56.

The Sun is shining in the sky -

Prince Ihor is in the Rusovan land.

Maidens sing on the Danube -

and their voices cross the sea to Kyiv.

Ihor rides along the Borychiv57 to the Church of

the Holy Virgin of Pyrogoshcha58.

The lands are glad.

The cities are cheerful.

Once they glorified the former princes

and now they will sing for the young.

Glory to Ihor Sviatoslavych,

to Fierce Bull Vsevolod,

to Volodymyr Ihorovych!

Hail to the princes and to the troops,

who fight for Christians against pagans.

Glory to princes and warriors.


* Annalistic tales about Ihor's campaign were written in 1185-1186 (Pereyaslav), 1188 (Chernihiv), in 1190 and 1198 (Kyjv) and preceded "The Saga of Ihor's Folk" (1198).

1 Ihor Sviatoslavych (1151-1202) - prince, a principal in Putyvl', Novhorod-Sivers'k, Chernihiv, a Ruler of Kyi'v in 1198-1201 (together with Riuryk Rostyslavych). His campaign against Polovtsi was in 1185. Sviatoslavych - father's name, means "son of Sviatoslav", as well "Rostyslavych" - "son of Rostyslav"; "Rusych", - "SON of RUS'"; etc.

2 Boyan - a bard in the XI th century.

3 old Iaroslav (978-1054) - a prince of Novhorod the Great, then - Grand Duke of Kyiv (1019-1054), called "the Wise".

4 bold Mstyslav - Iaroslav's brother, a principal of Chernihiv, died in 1034.

5 handsome Roman - a Iaroslav's grandson; fought for his paternal principality - Chernihiv; was lulled by Polovtsi in 1079.

6 old Volodymyr (1053-1125) - Iaroslav's grandson, called "Monomakh"; Grand Duke of Kyiv in 1113-1125.

7 The solar eclipse in the poem is a poetic image which shows that the Land of Rus' was in danger and it was Ihor's duty to defend it. Real eclipse was on the 1 st of May, 1185. But Ihor's troops were defeated before that lime - on the 28th of April.

8 In 1184-1185 Ihor's principality was surrounded by enemies - Pereyaslav with which siverians were in the state of war, Suzdal' and its allies - Polovtsi. All of them were ready to invade Rus'.

9 The Author means Iaroslavna, Ihor's wife.

10 Troyan' - a Slavonic state on the Dnieper which was formed in the IV th century.

11 Oleh Sviatoslavych - a chernihovan prince who defended his principality in the 11 th century.

12 Veles - a Slavonic pre-Christian god who took care of trades and poetry. Old Slavonians devoted to him many poetic works which are called now "Velesova knyha" (Veles book).

13 Vsevolod Sviatoslavych - Ihor's brother, a prince of Trubets'k and Kurs'k; died in 1196.

14 Luh - (Meadow) - the territory in south-east of Rus'. It was occupied by Polovtsi.

15 Tmutorokan' - a town and principality. To my mind, it was situated on the top of the Don, in the Riazanian Land. In the llth century it belonged to Chernihiv. In the 12 th century it was under the Suzdal' control.

* Rusovan Land means just the same as "The Land of Rus'". It is formed by analogy with adj. "Kyivan".

16 Gzak, Konchak - Polovtsian princes.

17 Stryboh - a Slavonic pre-Christian god.

18 Hlib's daughter - Vsevolod's wife, a daughter of Hlib Iuriyovych, a former Grand Duke of Kyiv.

19 Iaroslav's son Vsevolod - a Grand Duke of Kyiv; died in 1093.

20 Volodymyr - see number 6.

21 Borys Viacheslavych - a Iaroslav's nephew, a son of Viacheslav Volodymyrovych; died in 1078.

22 Sviatopolk - a Iaroslav's grandson; his father - Iziaslav, Grand Duke of Kyiv, died in 1078.

23 Dazhboh - a Slavonic pre-Christian god. D.grandson - the people of Rus'.

24 Sviatoslav III Vsevolodovych - the Grand Duke of Kyiv. He defeated Kobiak in 1184.

25 The inhabitants of maritime country - the southern coast of the Baltic sea between the river Oder and the river Elbe.

26 Plisnes'k, Kysan' - a fortress and a river in Halychyna. * The Author means Ihor's father Sviatoslav (died 1164) and grandfather Oleh (d. 1115). Their glory dimmed after the defeat of siverians.

27 The Goths were in the Crimea from the IV th to the XVIII th cent.

28 The Goths killed Slavonic king Bus at the end of the IV th century. 29 Sharokan' - a Polovlsian prince.

30 Iaroslav of Chernihiv (died in 1198).

31 Mohuts, Tatrans, Shelbirs, Topchaks, Revuhas, Olbirs - settlers of Chernihovan land.

32 Great prince Vsevolod (died in 1212) - a prince of Suzdal'. In 1177 he destroyed Riasan' with the help of Polovtsi and in 1185 he wanted to capture the Siverian land. Father's throne - Pereyaslav.

33 Vsevolod's campaign in 1182-1183.

34 Vsevolod's campaign in 1198.

35 sons of Hlib - Iziaslav and Volodymyr, princes of Pereyaslav; they were vassals of their uncle Vsevolod of Suzdal'.

36 Riuryk and Davyd - sons of Rostyslav, the Grand Duke of Kyiv (died in 1167). Riuryk (died in 1215) was a ruler in Kyiv together with Sviatoslav Vsevolodovych. Davyd (died in 1197) - a prince of Smolens'k.

37 Iaroslav of Halychyna (died in 1187) - Ihor's father-in-law.

38 Roman and Mstyslav - Volynian princes.

39 Slavonians warriors from the southern coast of the Baltic sea - ukrans and others.

40 Prince Roman's campaign in 1196-1198.

41 It was in 1195-1196 after the feudal wars between princes of Rus' and those princes who supported Vsevolod of Suzdal'.

42 Inhvar and Vsevolod and those three Mstyslavyches - Luts'k princes.

43 Iziaslav, Vasyl'ko's son - a prince of Polots'kian land.

44 Iaroslav of Novhorod the Great (till 1199); he was in conflict with Polochans in 1198.

45 Princes of Polots'k.

46 Vseslav of Polots'k (died in 1101) defended his principality and at last won in 1071.

47 Vseslav was a Grand Duke of Kyiv in 1068.

48 Trident - the Heraldry of Riuryk's Dynasty; now - State Emblem of Ukraine.

49 Khors - a Slavonic pre-Christian god.

50 See num. 6.

51 Iaroslavna - Ihor's wife, a daughter of Iaroslav of Halych. She married in 1067 or in 1068 and had five sons.

52 Ovlur - a Polovtsian, Ihor's servant.

53 Rostyslav - Monomakh's brother. He was drowned in 1093 when Polovtsi defeated the Rusovan troops.

54 falconet - Volodymyr, Ihor's son. He married Konchak's daughter and returned home in 1188.

55 To my mind, Boyan invited Oleh to the Chernihovan throne in 1094.

56 Ihor Sviatoslavych became the Great Duke of Kyiv (together with Riuryk Rostyslavych) in 1198.

57 Borychiv - a road in Kyiv which leads from the Podil to the Hill, "The town of Volodymyr". On that road Slavonians got their old gods down to the Dnieper in 988. And on the same road Ihor came to the Kyivan throne in 1198.

58 Pyrogoshcha - a holy icon which became a symbol of new Ukraine-Rus' of the 12 th century, in post-imperial period. Maybe, it means "The Fiery Sacrifice".




1. The Saga of Ihor's Folk (Slovo polku Ihorevim) - a heroic epic of the 12th century - is closely connected with the period of consolidation of Ukraine-Rus' in the post-imperial epoch. Just at that time Suzdal'-Khynova, a Volga colony of Rus', became independent and threw all its military forces to subdue Kyiv and the Rusovan land. In 1177 Vsevolod of Suzdal' ruined Riazan' with the help of Polovtsian allies. And then in 1184 Volodymyr of Pereyaslav, Vsevolod's nephew, attacked Siveria, Ihor's principality, and robbed some towns. It was the beginning of a new Suzdalian aggression against Rus'. Meanwhile Polovtsians gathered their tribes and were ready to invade the Rusovan land.

In the poem this situation is expressed by means of the solar eclipse which was considered to be a sign of danger for Rus'. Therefore Ihor's going out against the enemies was inevitable. And really only Ihor's campaign prevented that catastrophic invasion. As a result Siveria was included in the system of defence of Ukraine-Rus'. So it was marked once and for all the north-eastern border between Ukraine as the former Parent State and Suzdal'-Khynova (later - Muskovia) which developed on its own root. This delimitation between two nations was already in the 12th century, but not because of the Tatar-Mongol aggression in the 13th century.

2. Ihor's campaign of 1185 was described in the Ukrainian chronicles of that time as the event of great significance. Those annalistic tales were written in 1185-1186 (Pereyaslav), in 1188 (Chernihiv), in 1190 and 1198 (Kyiv) and preceded The Saga of Ihor's Folk (1198).

The Pereyaslavan tale is hostile to siverians because of military conflict between them.

The Chernihovan tale is friendly to siverians and tries to explain their defeat by the bad influence of the solar eclipse on the mood of Ihor's warriors. But in the poem it was only a poetic image because really the eclipse took place after Ihor's defeat. The chernihovan tale and the poem were written by one and the same person. It was Ol'styn Olexych Prokhir's grandson, a chernihovan voivode (commander of an army) who took part in Ihor's campaign.

The Kyivan tales (1190 and 1198) are based on the chernihovan story, but they appeared under different political and military circumstances. The tale of 1190 in Kyivan chronicle of duumvirs Sviatoslav and Riuryk is neutral. But after Sviatoslav's death (1194) there was a severe feudal war between princes Monomakhovyches and Olehovyches for the repartition of Rus'. In 1196 Riuryk gave Pereyaslav to Vsevolod of Suzdal'. Thus Rus'-Ukraine found herself in captivity of hostile forces. Therefore Kyivan tale of 1198 is not friendly to Ihor and tried to accuse Iaroslav of Chernihiv and Ol'styn Olexych of betrayal in the events of 1185.

The Saga of Ihor's Folk entered into polemics with Pereyaslavan and Kyivan (1198) tales in order to show that Ihor's heroic deeds in

1185 were for the sake of Ukraine-Rus'. The author hopes that Ihor who became the Great Prince of Chernihiv will save Rus' once more from hostile captivity in 1198.

3. The manuscript of The Saga of Ihor's Folk was already known at the end of the 17lh century. The reminiscences of the poem were found in the book Runo Oroshennoye by Dmytro Tuptalo (1651-1709), a Ukrainian preacher and playwright, later - Rostov metropolitan in Muskovia. The first edition of this book was in 1680 in Chernihiv. In 1708-1709 D.Tuptalo presented that manuscript in a collection with other works to Spaso-Preobrazhens'kyi monastery of Iaroslavl' (Muskovia). But from the 30th the collection was kept in the library of the Rostov eparchy and was acquired by Alexei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin in 1792.

4. A. I. Musin-Pushkin and A. F. Malinovs'kyi could not understand the manuscript which was written by the Kyivan cursive of the 17th century and differed from Muskov writings of that time very much. For example, at first they decided that the poem deals with the victorious campaign of Rusovan princes against Polovtsians in 1103. Musin-Pushkin began to translate the poem and made a lot of graphic mistakes.

The manuscript was read and transliterated in 1794-1795 by Mykola Bantysh-Kamens'kyi, a Ukrainian scientist, who was a director of the Moscov Archives. He also made the best translation of the poem in the 18th century.

Preparing the text of the poem to the first edition, M. Bantysh-Kamens'kyi put into practice a highly effective method: he did not change in the text none of the letters but opened titles of abbreviation, filled shortenings according to the orthography of the 18th century.

5. The first mention about The Saga of Ihor's Folk was found in the historic essay by Ivan Elagin Opyt povestvovaniya Rossii. In October 1792 he finished five parts of his work describing events till the beginning of the 15th century and presented them to Musin-Pushkin. Probably at that time he was acquainted with the poem and mentioned about it not in the description of 1185 (he already had not those materials), but in the 7th part of his Opyt. To my mind, Elagin's acquaintance with the manuscript was not long. He did not even realize the contents of the poem and was sure that it was written in 1103.

The translation and the copy of the text which were found in 1864 among the papers of Ekaterina the Second were written on the Dutch paper with watermarks which were used in 1792 and in 1795 (Churchill W. A. Watermarks in papers in the XVII and XVIII centuries.Amsterdam, 1935). I consider that at first Musin-Pushkin prepared the translation of the poem and wrote on the paper of 1792. Then Bantysh-Kamens'kyi transliterated the text of the manuscript and wrote it on the same sort of paper of 1792. But the last two sheets of the translation were written on the paper of 1795 as well as Contents. So, to my mind, the transliteration was made in 1795, just before that time when Musin-Pushkin gave those materials to Ekaterina the Second.

6. The text of the first edition, Ekaterina's copy, fragments which were written from the poem by Elagin, Malinovs'kyi, Karamzin as well as translations of the 18th century contain a lot of graphic mistakes and misunderstandings which are of the great value for the reconstruction of the manuscript. I came to the conclusion that the manuscript of Musin-Pushkin was written by Kyivan cursive in the middle of the 17th century. It came from the copy of the 16th century together with Shchukin's manuscript.

Taking into account all graphic mistakes in the texts and fragments of the Saga, I reconstructed the manuscript by method of paleographic tracology (from the word trace), found rhythmic structure of the poem and translated it in modern Ukrainian and English languages.

Commentaries and List of my scientific works are at the end of the book.

7. The Saga of Ihor's Folk is studied all over the world. There are thousands of research works and essays about this epic. But only at the first half of the 19th century it was considered to be a heroic song of ancient Ukraine-Rus'. Later V. Belinski who did not deny Ukrainian character of the poem nevertheless compared it with baby talk - poetic in its form, but poor in contents. But the analysis of the poem in historic context of its epoch disproved this estimation. The Author concludes: It is the misfortune for the body to be without the head and just the same for the Rusovan land to be without Ihor. Therefore Ihor Sviatoslavych came to the Icon of the Holy Virgin of Pyrogoshcha - the symbol of new Ukraine-Rus' - to receive blessings and discharge his duties as the leader of his people.

And now just like in old times The Saga of Ihor's Folk stands in defence of Ukraine - Our People and Power.


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