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Abstract

The present article introduces a new approach to the Old Russian texts by revealing metrical patterns underlying seemingly prose texts of the chronicle Povest vremennykh let. These patterns proved to be a shared feature of Eastern Slavic oral epic traditions. Thus, ideas of Ivan Franko about metrical character of the chronicles and Ivan Nikiforov’s claim about metrical affi nities of Eastern Slavic epic traditions are developed and enriched by up to date linguistic as well as ethnomusicological observations. Metrical affi nities of certain fragments of the chronicle Povest vremennykh let and Eastern Slavic epic give new clues to the possible persistence of oral epic in written form and consequently broaden the range of Old Russian texts that can be regarded as epic. Poetical epic corpus, enlarged in this way, gives a new relevant context to Slovo o polku Igoreve, authenticity of which can be proven now with more certainty on the basis of metrical affi nities with the fragments of chronicle of presumably oral origin.
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Abstract

The study focuses on one of the ways to express for eignness of ethnicities encountered by the inhabitants of Medieval Rus’, namely on constructing the origin of those ethnicities. The narrative about the origin of an ethnicity and its ancestors (origo gentis) is known from European medieval historiography in general. The oldest Russian chronicles, however, are distinguishable for not only recording the origin of their own nation, but noting the roots of completely different cultures, i.e. steppe tribes and northern peoples; later the origin of Mongols is refl ected in a similar way. The comparison of the Primary Chronicle and Latin Central European chronicles which were created almost at the same time period (Chronica Boemorum by Cosmas of Prague, Chronica et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum by Gallus Anonymus and a slightly younger anonymous Gesta Hungarorum) demonstrates that the primary function of Latin origo gentis was to define the identity of the medieval gens, which was changing into natio of the High Medieval Period, and to legitimate its political structures. In these chronicles, origo gentis never became a separate theme in relation to other nations. On the contrary, the authors of the oldest Russian chronicles considered the identifi cation of the origins of the foreign nations to be the key for recognizing their functions not only in the present or in the past, but, first and foremost, in the future, in the end time.
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